6. Advance Fee Lenders – These scam artists offer quick and immediate loans despite credit history and with little to no background check. The catch: the consumer is requested to pay advance fees before they receive the loan. After the victim wires the money, he never sees his loan funds or advance fee payment again. It is illegal to charge an advance fee for loans.
7. Mystery/Secret Shoppers -A website will often asks that you “register” and pay a fee in order to receive information about a certification program, a directory of mystery shopping companies, or baseless guarantees of obtaining mystery shopping positions. Most don’t exist, have already expired, or have nothing to do with legitimate secret shopping offers.
8. Phony Directories and Yellow Pages – Phony directories or yellow page scams usually target small to medium sized businesses. Solicitors call businesses to “renew” or “re-enroll” an existent yellow pages listing or advertisement. Many companies or their employees are misled into accepting the alleged “renewals.” The illegitimate directory provider immediately sends an invoice for this service, usually in the amount of hundreds of dollars, and threatens businesses with collections or credit report damage should they dispute the charges or decline to pay.
9. Not so “Free” Trials – Many websites offering a free trial for products do not disclose the billing terms and conditions or do not have such details prominently displayed on their website. Consumers think they are signing up for one time free trials, but often end up being repeatedly billed for products and services they didn’t want.
10. Phishing, Fake E-cards, and Smishing – Phishing is a crime and a high-tech scam that uses spam to deceive consumers into disclosing their personal information. Scammers create a legitimate-looking email from a bank or financial institution. The email asks for a confirmation of the consumer’s account and personal information. Recently scammers have tried to take advantage of the H1N1 scare as a new way to lure consumers into giving up personal information that would allow the scammers access to personal data. Additionally, fake e-cards are another way scammers have tried to phish for personal information in 2009. “Smishing” is the practice of sending a phishing message to steal credit card or identity information via cell phone text messaging.
Be careful of these practices online. If in doubt, do not click on a link in an email!