Tag Archives: Consumer Warnings

15 Tips to Avoid Storm Damage Repair Scams and Other Rip-Offs

Our hearts and prayers go out to those affected by the most recent tornadoes and storms. Please pass along this vital information, as sadly there are scam artists attempting to take advantage of an already difficult situation …

storm damage fallen tree

The last few weeks of storms wreaked havoc on much of North Texas, leaving damage and destruction of vehicles, homes, property, and more. To avoid another disaster at the hands of scam artists, be sure to use caution with these useful tips from Fort Worth’s Better Business Bureau (BBB) and the FTC:

Avoid Home Contractor and Repair Scams

  1. Check with your insurance company first to determine your home and repair coverage and filing requirements; keep their contact information handy.
  2. Be leery of door-to-door workers or telephone solicitors who offer home repairs, inspections, heating/cooling services, or speedy insurance processing.
  3. Shop around for contractors. You may need to make temporary repairs, but permanent repairs made by a contractor should be the result of multiple work bids and contractor research.
    Require written bids that clearly identify the project’s materials, associated costs, labor charges, as well as the timing of work including the beginning and expected completion dates.
    • Be sure that the bids are comparable.
    • Do not pay in advance for any work and do not pay in cash.
    • Get references from the contractor’s past customers.
    • Check out the contractor’s history with the BBB and relevant trade association(s). Always research a business with the BBB before you sign any contracts.
  4. Require copies of all contractor licenses, permits and liability insurance prior to any work commencing.
  5. When work is complete, be sure to get a notarized statement that all sub-contractors have been paid in full to avoid a contractors lien on your property.
  6. If you have an HVAC repair, allow heating/cooling units to be cleaned out and dried before determining what, if any repairs are actually needed.

Steer Clear of Vehicle Damage Scams

  1. Similar to home repairs, shop around for a quality vehicle repair service. 
    • Require written bids that clearly show the repair parts, associated costs, mechanic labor charges, as well as the timing of work including the beginning and expected completion dates.
    • Do not pay in advance for any work and do not pay in cash.
    • Get references from past customers.
    • Check out auto mechanic’s history with the BBB or business review sites like Yelp.
  2. If you are shopping for a used vehicle, look for signs of flood or hail damage like rust, mud, watermarks, discolored upholstery, mismatching carpet or a musty odor.
  3. Request a vehicle report based on the VIN to check for past reported auto damage of any kind.

Protect Yourself From Charity & Financial Solicitation Scams
Take the following precautions to make sure your donation benefits the people and organizations you want to help.

  1. Ask for detailed information about the charity, including name, address, and telephone number.
  2. Get the exact name of the organization and do some research. Searching the name of the organization online — especially with the word “complaint(s)” or “scam”— is one way to learn about its reputation.
  3. Call the charity. Find out if the organization is aware of the solicitation and has authorized the use of its name. The organization’s development staff should be able to help you.
  4. Find out if the charity is trustworthy by contacting the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving AllianceCharity NavigatorCharity Watch, or GuideStar.
  5. Ask if the caller is a paid fundraising company. If so, ask the name of the charity they represent, the percentage of your donation that will go to the charity, how much will go to the actual cause to which you’re donating, and how much will go to the fundraising company.
  6. Learn the basic signs of a Charity scam and more ways to protect yourself at the FTC’s helpful online guide.

Help stay clear of all scams by using the free resources at the Better Business Bureau.  Be sure to check out all businesses and charities online or by phone (800)-621-8566.

If you find yourself a victim of poor workmanship or a scam artist, immediately contact the BBB to try to recover your investment or alert others about the business or individual(s) involved. Consumers or small business owners victimized by a scam can learn more or file a complaint at fwbbb.org.

 

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Beware! City of Fort Worth Warns of Scam Callers Demanding Money For Fake Warrants

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Please pass this warning along…


The Fort Worth Municipal Court warns of a scam involving phone calls to residents asking for money for unsettled warrants.

The calls are not from Municipal Court officers, who do not call residents to collect payments. Anyone receiving such a bogus call should contact the Fort Worth Police Department at 817-335-4222.

Here’s how the scam works: Phone calls are made to residents from supposed “marshals” who say that arrests will be made if money isn’t immediately sent via Western Union. The requested amounts range from $500-$2,000 per call.

Keep in mind that the Municipal Court does not call people at their residence to collect payment. Instead, letters are mailed to home addresses when a warrant demands attention.

Between 25 and 40 bogus phone calls have been reported in Fort Worth recently, many of them to elderly residents.

To check your warrant status, call the Warrants Office at 817-392-8665 or check online.

In the meantime, never send money to anyone without knowing for certain who you’re speaking to and what the payment is for.

P.S.  Consumers or small business owners victimized by a scam can also contact the Fort Worth Better Business Bureau or file a complaint at www.fwbbb.org. Always research with the BBB before you sign any contracts or hand over any money. 

 

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..


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15 Tips to Avoid Storm Damage Repair Scams and Other Rip-Offs

Please help protect others by sharing this information…

storm damage fallen tree

Last week’s storms wreaked havoc on much of North Texas, leaving damage and destruction of vehicles, homes, property, and more. To avoid another disaster at the hands of scam artists, be sure to use caution with these useful tips from Fort Worth’s Better Business Bureau (BBB) and the FTC:

Avoid Home Contractor and Repair Scams

  1. Check with your insurance company first to determine your home and repair coverage and filing requirements; keep their contact information handy.
  2. Be leery of door-to-door workers or telephone solicitors who offer home repairs, inspections, heating/cooling services, or speedy insurance processing.
  3. Shop around for contractors. You may need to make temporary repairs, but permanent repairs made by a contractor should be the result of multiple work bids and contractor research.
    Require written bids that clearly identify the project’s materials, associated costs, labor charges, as well as the timing of work including the beginning and expected completion dates.
    • Be sure that the bids are comparable.
    • Do not pay in advance for any work and do not pay in cash.
    • Get references from the contractor’s past customers.
    • Check out the contractor’s history with the BBB and relevant trade association(s). Always research a business with the BBB before you sign any contracts.
  4. Require copies of all contractor licenses, permits and liability insurance prior to any work commencing.
  5. When work is complete, be sure to get a notarized statement that all sub-contractors have been paid in full to avoid a contractors lien on your property.
  6. If you have an HVAC repair, allow heating/cooling units to be cleaned out and dried before determining what, if any repairs are actually needed.

Steer Clear of Vehicle Damage Scams

  1. Similar to home repairs, shop around for a quality vehicle repair service. 
    • Require written bids that clearly show the repair parts, associated costs, mechanic labor charges, as well as the timing of work including the beginning and expected completion dates.
    • Do not pay in advance for any work and do not pay in cash.
    • Get references from past customers.
    • Check out auto mechanic’s history with the BBB or business review sites like Yelp.
  2. If you are shopping for a used vehicle, look for signs of flood or hail damage like rust, mud, watermarks, discolored upholstery, mismatching carpet or a musty odor.
  3. Request a vehicle report based on the VIN to check for past reported auto damage of any kind.

Protect Yourself From Charity & Financial Solicitation Scams
Take the following precautions to make sure your donation benefits the people and organizations you want to help.

  1. Ask for detailed information about the charity, including name, address, and telephone number.
  2. Get the exact name of the organization and do some research. Searching the name of the organization online — especially with the word “complaint(s)” or “scam”— is one way to learn about its reputation.
  3. Call the charity. Find out if the organization is aware of the solicitation and has authorized the use of its name. The organization’s development staff should be able to help you.
  4. Find out if the charity is trustworthy by contacting the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving AllianceCharity NavigatorCharity Watch, or GuideStar.
  5. Ask if the caller is a paid fundraising company. If so, ask the name of the charity they represent, the percentage of your donation that will go to the charity, how much will go to the actual cause to which you’re donating, and how much will go to the fundraising company.
  6. Learn the basic signs of a Charity scam and more ways to protect yourself at the FTC’s helpful online guide.

Help stay clear of all scams by using the free resources at the Better Business Bureau.  Be sure to check out all businesses and charities online or by phone (800)-621-8566.

If you find yourself a victim of poor workmanship or a scam artist, immediately contact the BBB to try to recover your investment or alert others about the business or individual(s) involved. Consumers or small business owners victimized by a scam can learn more or file a complaint at fwbbb.org.

 

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and button down the family finances?
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Buyer Beware! Fort Worth Better Business Bureau Lists Top 10 Scams and Rip-Offs of 2009

                     

The Better Business Bureau released a list of the top 10 scams and rip-offs of 2009. Free trial offers and scams that take advantage of tough economic times dominate the list. 

Not surprisingly, many scams sought to take advantage of people who were suffering under tough economic circumstances—such as the unemployed. Additionally, the use of free-trial offers to lock consumers into recurring credit and debit card charges was widespread online. 

Following, in no particular order, is BBB’s list of top scams and rip-offs that took advantage of consumers and small business owners across the U.S. in 2009: 

  1. Acai Supplements and Other “Free” Trial Offers – Ads offering trial offers for teeth whiteners, acai anti-aging pills and other miracle supplements blanket the Internet, including trusted Web sites of national news organizations. The marketing campaigns often falsely claimed an endorsement by Oprah, Rachel Ray and Doctor Oz. Thousands of consumers complained to BBB that the free trial actually cost them as much as hundreds of dollars, month after month.
  2. Stimulus/Government Grant Scams – Even before President Obama announced the stimulus plan in February, scammers had already set up schemes for misleading consumers and small business owners into thinking they could get a piece of the pie. Offers for worthless assistance and advice on how to get government grants bombarded consumers online, over the phone and via mail and e-mail.
  3. Robocalls – Owning a cell phone or having their phone number on the do-not-call list did not help thousands of people across the US put a stop to harassing automated telemarketing calls in 2009. The robocalls often claimed that their auto warranty was about to expire—which wasn’t true—or offered help in reducing their interest rate on their credit card. The prevalence of robocalls violating federal telemarketing laws prompted the FTC to increase restrictions on the practice in 2009.
  4. Lottery/Sweepstakes Scam – The victim receives a letter in the mail pretending to be from Reader’s Digest, Publisher’s Clearing House or a phony foreign lottery claiming that he or she has won millions. The letter comes with a check that represents only a portion of the total winnings. In order to get the rest, the victim has to deposit the check and then wire hundreds of dollars back to the scammers supposedly to cover taxes or some other bogus fee. The victim wires the money, but the prize never arrives.
  5. Job Hunter ScamsScams targeting job hunters vary and include attempts to gain access to personal information such as bank account or social security numbers and requirements to pay a fee in order to even be considered for the job. Another common scam was reported to BBB by job hunters who were told by a prospective employer that they had to check their credit report before being considered for a job. The job offer is actually a marketing ploy for online credit monitoring that costs the victim every month until they cancel.
  6. Google Work from Home Scam – Countless Web sites cropped up in 2009 that claimed you could learn how to make money from home using Google or Twitter and offered a free trial of learning materials. The Web sites often included the Google or Twitter moniker and logo. As a result, many people who complained to BBB thought they were getting a job with Google or Twitter when in, fact, they were being lured into another misleading free-trial offer and were billed every month for the materials and other mystery charges that added up to hundreds of dollars.
  7. Mortgage Foreclosure Rescue/Debt Assistance – Many families are struggling in the current economy and hucksters are offering to help them save their house from foreclosure or help them get out of credit card debt. Unfortunately, victims are paying hundreds of dollars up front for the assistance they desperately need but ultimately never receive.
  8. Mystery Shopping – Consumers across the country thought that they could make some extra money by becoming a secret shopper and evaluating the customer service of various stores. The victim is asked to evaluate their shopping experience at a few stores as well as a money wiring service such as Western Union or MoneyGram by wiring money back to the scammers. A seemingly real looking check is supposed to cover the costs, but ends up being a fake. The victim is out hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.
  9. Over-Payment Scams – Over-payment scams typically target small business owners, landlords or individuals with rooms to rent and sellers on classifieds or sites like Craigslist. Typically the scammer pretends to be a customer, possible renter or interested buyer, respectively. The victim receives a check for more than the amount requested. The scammers then ask the victim to deposit the check and wire the extra amount elsewhere, such as to a shipping company. Ultimately though, the check is fake and the victim is really wiring money back to the scammers.
  10. Phishing e-mails/H1N1 spam – A perennial problem, phishing e-mails pop up in inboxes and can take various forms such as appearing to be from a business, a government agency or official or even a friend. Whatever the setup, the goal of any phishing e-mail is the same: to trick victims into divulging sensitive financial information or to infect the victim’s computer with viruses and malware. In addition to phishing e-mails, spam e-mail selling wares to prevent the spread of the H1N1 virus were particularly rampant in 2009.

 Consumers or small business owners victimized by a scam can contact their local BBB or file a complaint at www.fwbbb.org. Always research a business with BBB before you sign any contracts or hand over any money. 

Thanks to the Better Business Bureau of Fort Worth for this Press Release! 

  

 

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