Top con of 2011: Job-hunting scams
Scam artists focused their efforts on people desperate to find a job in this economy.
This post comes from Jeanine Skowronski at partner site MainStreet.
The more notable job-hunting scams included secret shopper schemes, work-from-home scams and other phony job offers. However, the BBB said the most egregious versions are ones that allow targets to interview for a phony job in an attempt to get them to provide their Social Security number and bank account information upon "hire." The scams are designed to prey on folks desperate to find work in a slow economy.
The other top scam categories of the year are, in order of popularity, as follows:
- Sweepstakes and lottery scams. Scammers trick victims into thinking they won a large sum of money to get personal information or to get them to click on a link that downloads malware onto their computer..
- Social media/online dating scams. Scammers get victims to click on links posted on social media sites by offering coupons or the opportunity to see footage of big news events, such as the death of Osama Bin Laden, then spam all their friends via the same social network. Post continues below.
- Home-improvement scams. Especially prevalent following natural disasters, these scams feature phony contractors going door-to-door offering cheap repairs that ultimately never will be completed.
- Check-cashing scams. These scams typically involve a phony cashier's check to pay for goods or services. Scammers send fraudulent checks for more than the item or service is worth, then ask you to wire back the difference, before the original check bounces.
- Phishing scams. Thieves send emails under the guise of being a legitimate company, often using the name of a well-known brand, to get victims to give away personal information or click on links to malware.
- Identity theft scams. Scammers steal someone's identity either through email, regular mail, fax, phone or even someone's trash, then use this information to apply for credit cards, loans, or even to commit crimes.
- Financial and loan-modification scams. Scammers pose as mortgage relief companies or government agencies in an effort to get those already in dire financial straits to part with their money.
- Sales scams. Scammers advertise a product at a discount to get consumers to bid on it in bogus penny auctions.
- Imposter scams, grandparent scams. In this recurring scam, which popped up again in August, scammers call and pose as a grandchild in distress in an attempt to get seniors to wire them emergency money.
More on MainStreet and MSN Money:
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Mitch Lipka has been warning people about scams and shining light on questionable business practices for more than 20 years. Mitch, the consumer columnist for The Boston Globe, has also been a reporter and editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Consumer Reports, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and AOL. He won the 2010 New York Press Club award for best consumer reporting online and was honored in 2011 for his reporting on child product safety.
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