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In the Media

article imageU.S. consumers warned of several scams this week

article:328496:13::0
By Leigh Goessl
Jul 13, 2012 in World
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It's only mid-July, and so far several new scams have been reported during the first half of this month. The scams range from job offers to the U.S. President offering stimulus money to pay resident utility bills, and a few in between.
None of the above are real offers, and officials and other agencies are warning these are all scams.
• Grant to pay utility bills
The utility grant is not a new scam, but has seen a huge surge recently, and it is perhaps the most prominent exploit reported about this month. According to the Chattanoogan, the scam falsely notes President Obama approved a new stimulus package that gives people money to pay their utility bills.
Several news reports across the U.S. report various forms of this scam popping up in different states and many utility companies are warning customers of this con. As NBC News notes, the scammers are asking people for their Social Security and bank routing numbers to activate the grants and pay off their bills.
NBC further describes how the scam works. The news agency also reports: Nationwide, there have been 2,000 victims in the city of Tampa and at least 10,000 in New Jersey. Other victims have been reported in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and in some New England states, while utility companies in Utah and California reported similar scam epidemics earlier this year.
Consumers are receiving notice of the offer through SMS, telephone, fliers and social media, warned the Better Business Bureau. This year is reported to be particularly concerning since it's an election year and people might be more apt to think this is a legitimate offer given by the president, who is looking to be re-elected.
"No one knows who is behind this," said Katherine Hutt, spokeswoman for the Council of Better Business Bureaus in Arlington, Va. "We're pretty concerned. It seems to have really taken off."
• Collect your discarded drugs
What's being described as a "creative" scam by the Madison Capital Times, swindlers are going door to door asking for painkillers. A 62-year-old woman described the incident to local police.
"The woman at the door claimed to be from Advanced Pain Management, and that this was a service being offered by the company," said Madison Police Department spokesman Joel DeSpain in a news release. The scammer wanted to collect old drugs the woman may have had in her possession, but she told the solicitor no, that the only medication collection she was aware of was managed by police.
• Job scams
The Better Business Bureau warned this week of two job-related scams. The first is directed towards high school and college students looking for summer work. BBB describes various scenarios and warns how to avoid falling victim.
The second warning by the BBB, also issued this week, warns job hunters of scammers taking the name of a real company or organization to use as bait for the trap. The information gained is then used for illicit intentions.
A recent example of one of the scams described by the BBB notes the scammers using Craigslist and posting under a legitimate entity's name. This is a twist on a well-documented scam that sends the job seeker a check with directions to deposit and wire the extra amount.
"Consumers were told keep a portion of the check as their pay and to wire the rest to a third party via Western Union. Of course, the checks never cleared, and victims were out the money," said the BBB, who also offers tips in its article on how to spot and avoid these types of scams.
Then there is the "classic" jury duty scam which has reportedly made a comeback this week, reported Worthington Daily Globe. Previously, this scam was primarily conducted via telephone and scammers tried to snatch information that can be used for identity theft, but newer versions of the scam can reportedly be received via text messaging notifications.
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