What were the top scam of 2006 and how can you avoid getting scammed in 2007? As consumers get more savvy to scams, the scammers are creating new ploys to swindle hard-working folks out of their money.
In 2006, the top scams reported by ConsumerAffairs.org preyed on people’s obsession with get-rich-quick lotteries and investments, pop culture, our desire for jobs and “free gifts,” our sympathies, and even our frustration with over-the-top gas prices.
Here are the top 10 scams of 2006, based on the approximately 50,000 consumer complaints received by ConsumerAffairs.com in 2006. In email request for more information, ConsumerAffairs.com also provided the best ways to avoid being the victim of similar scams in 2007.
Here then, chosen from the roughly 50,000 consumer complaints we’ve processed in the past year, are the ConsumerAffairs.com Top Ten Scams of 2006.
Top Scams of 2006
Top Scams of 2006: 1. Fake Lottery Scam
As consumers get more interested in hitting the big money, more and more fake lotteries and sweepstakes swept the nation. New York state was the hardest hit, by supposed lotteries in Europe and Canada that claimed winners won thousands of dollars.
Avoiding Lottery Scams and Sweepstakes Scams in 2007: If you didn’t enter a lottery or sweepstakes, you definitely didn’t win it either. By law, sweepstakes can’t charge an entry fee, so never give up cash to get cash you supposedly won.
Lottery or sweepstakes scam only seems to get bigger and more dangerous. Promising victims they have won thousands of dollars in a Canadian or European lottery
Top Scams of 2006: 2. Phishing-Vishing Scams
Phishing asks consumers for information through their email. Vishing uses email to have consumers call a toll-free number and give up their data that way.
Avoiding Phishing-Vishing Scams in 2007:
Never click-through or call a number from an UNSOLICITED email from someone claiming to be your financial institution. If you are concerned about the email, call your financial institution using the phone number on the actual card or statement, and contact them directly.
Top Scams of 2006: 3. Phony Job Scam
The old and familiar check cashing schemes have moved to contacting unsuspecting job seekers.
Avoiding Phony Job Scams in 2007: Do not accept any jobs that do conduct an interview. Verify the company is valid. Never cash a check for anyone you don’t know.
Top Scams of 2006: 4. Negative Option Scams
A “negative option scam” is a way of describing those companies that offer you a “free gift” when actually you are signing up for a service that you had no intention of purchasing.
Avoiding Negative Option Scams in 2007: Nobody is going to give you a brand new iPod or TiVo for free. If a gift is truly free, they don’t need your credit card information, do they? Don’t give it out.
Top Scams of 2006: 5. Nigerian 419 Scams
It’s amazing that this scam makes the top 5. You receive an email from someone you don’t know asking for your help to move some money. And this generous and nice person will give you, yes you, a large portion of it.
Avoiding Nigerian 419 Scams in 2007:
Do not give anyone your bank account information online.
Top Scams of 2006: 6. Pump & Dump Scam
Supposedly “hot stock tip” spam emails are sent out. The spammers buy the stock while its low, and sell it at its highest price, after the email recipients go an buy the cheap stock.
Avoiding Pump & Dump Scams in 2007:
Free investment advice from an unsolicited and unknown source is worthless. If you really want to learn about the stock market read a magazine like Money Magazine, or visit the Motley Fool web site.
Top Scams of 2006: 7. Bogus Fuel Saving Devices
With consumers so desperate about rising gas prices, its on wonder a number of companies came up with “special pellets” for improving gas efficiency, and a “magnetic device” for increasing gas mileage.
Avoiding Bogus Fuel Saving Devices Scams in 2007:
There are no secret devices or magic potions that will get more out of your gas. Practice regular car maintenance to get the most out of your gas mileage.
Top Scams of 2006: 8. Grandparents Scam
Scammers call the elderly claiming to be their grandchildren and ask them to send money.
Avoiding Grandparents in 2007: Advise the elderly in your family of this type of scam. Make sure they have their grandchildrens’ cell phone numbers. If they receive these calls, advise them to tell the caller to call their parents instead, or that they will call them right back on their cell phones.
Top Scams of 2006: 9. Oprah Ticket Scam
This scam again involves a request for personal and financial information. The reason? “You just won tickets to Oprah, and a tour package.”
Avoiding Oprah Ticket Scams in 2007: Shows like Oprah do not sell tickets to their show. Mark as spam, and delete.
Top Scams of 2006: 10. craigslist Scam
This is another scam involving a check cashing scheme, used on unsuspecting folks renting rooms or apartments.
Avoiding Scams in 2007: craigslist Scam
Never cash anyone else’s “payroll” check for them, especially someone you don’t know.