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The 5 most common scams in 2018

BBB offers tips to protect your money
Posted at 9:25 AM, Dec 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-18 11:25:15-05

The business world is full of trends, fads, tactics and techniques, but the dirty business of scams is no different.

Now, the BBB is warning of some of the current scams popular with thieves but unpopular with their victims.

The Overpayment Scam

Here's how this one works -- someone pays you for some work or a product. They send you a check, and -- whoops! It turns out they accidentally paid too much, so would you send back the excess?

The scam is that the only real money is the so-called overpayment you're sending back. Don't cash that check -- demand a new one for the agreed amount.

"You shouldn't have to give your employer money back. So that's a red flag right there," Susann Miller of the Better Business Bureau of Southern Arizona said. "But also, don't use any money that has been put into the bank account till you know that the check is cleared."

Oh, and face the fact you probably will not be paid at all.


In "whaling" scams, the crooks go after the big one -- in this case, the whales are the CEO's or the biggest people in an organization.

Regular workers click on an e-mail that infects the company network. Scam artists intercept and study the company's e-mail to learn who's who.

Eventually they learn enough to send a fake e-mail that looks like the CEO wants to transfer some money. Of course, the CEO's not around to confirm that in person.

"And they know when the CEO is out" Miller said. And so when that happens, they'll send somebody at a higher level that has access to the financials and ask them to send money to a different account."

The Government Grant Scam

This scam appeals to the idea that the government's just handing out money -- all you have to do is pay a fee and send in some personal information. The scammers will steal both.

This red flag may seem obvious, but the BBB says it's important -- "free" money doesn't come easy, and should be treated skeptically. Remember: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

The Car Title Scam

Here's how this one works -- you're trying to sell a car and the prospective buyer wants a car history report from a particular website. It's a site that will take your identity and your money.

The BBB says to be wary of any seller who asks you to use a particular website as the condition for a sale.

Contractor/Home Repair Scams

Contractor and home repair scams never go out of style. Hire the wrong contractor, and you could be stuck with huge debts, unfinished work or even a lawsuit.

Protect yourself by taking multiple bids and demanding a contractor registered with the state. And always get everything in writing.