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5 Auto Repair Scams

You take your car to the mechanic; it’s been making a funny grinding noise when you press on the gas pedal. The mechanic tells you what’s wrong and what needs to be fixed, then socks you with the estimate.You take your car to the mechanic; it’s been making a funny grinding noise when you press on the gas pedal. The mechanic tells you what’s wrong and what needs to be fixed, then socks you with the estimate. How can you tell he’s not embellishing a lot of the “diagnosis”? You know nothing about cars. You have to take his word for it. What if the second opinion is also from a scammer and sounds a lot like the first opinion? You’re screwed. An article at carbuying.jalopnik.com describes five auto repair scams. Charging for repairs you don’t need.
  • The mechanic says he fixed the problem.
  • The problem still persists.
  • You take the car back and he “diagnoses” the “real” problem and fixes that.
  • The problem still exists.
  • The game repeats but finally the issue is corrected, but you get charged for the first two “repairs,” which never had to be made in the first place. The mechanic scammed you, and this is illegal.
Saying something is wrong when it’s not.
  • What an easy way for a mechanic to make money and get away with it, especially if the “something wrong” is a small repair. He can really clean up if he pulls this stunt on dozens of customers.
  • A version of this is to find something out of place or not working optimally and tell you it needs to be replaced—even though a repair will fix the problem.
  • This is illegal in many states.
Overcharging for parts or labor. 
  • It’s so easy for a mechanic to do this. How do you know that the four-hour job wasn’t really a two-hour job?
  • Do you know how much a shock absorber or new brakes should cost?
  • Though prices for the same product vary from one shop to the next, consider yourself scammed when the charge is way over the norm.
  • You also shouldn’t pay a mechanic for his inexperience. If he honestly took four hours to do a job that should have taken two hours, you should not be charged for the extra two hours.
  • Get a price and labor estimate before authorizing the work. AND GET IT IN WRITING.
Theft
  • Yes, mechanics have been known to steal valuables including performance features of the vehicle. Even taking a candy bar is illegal.
  • The shop may tell you to file an insurance claim. They’re scamming you because this isn’t how it should work. Since they had possession of your car, the onus is on them that something is missing.
  • Don’t leave valuables in your car.
Joyriding
  • In your car, that is.
  • After the work is completed, the mechanic takes your wheels for a spin.
Damaging your car by accident.
  • They owe you to fix the damage.
If you believe you were scammed, call your lawyer, not your insurance company. ____________________ Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to BestIDTheftCompanys.com discussing identity theft prevention.

Holiday Job Scam Tempts With High Pay

The holiday season will soon be in full swing, and stores are staffing up with temporary employees. Seasonal work can be a great way to make extra money during the holidays, but watch out for fake job scams.

The holiday season will soon be in full swing, and stores are staffing up with temporary employees. Seasonal work can be a great way to make extra money during the holidays, but watch out for fake job scams. 

How the Scam Works:

You receive an email that appears to be from the human resources department of a major retailer or a recruitment firm. The email says the company is hiring employees for the holiday season and claims to pay a high hourly wage. And applying is easy. You don't need to go into the store. All you have to do is click the link at the bottom of the message and fill out an online application. 

Don't let the message fool you! This email traces back to China, not a corporate office in the United States or Canada. If you click, you may download malware to your device. Or, if you complete the "application," you will be sharing your personal information with scammers and opening yourself up to identity theft.   

As the holiday season ramps up, watch out for scams. Busy schedules mean that people may be less vigilant in November and December and can easily fall prey to cons.  

How to Spot a Job Scam

  • Don't fall for an overpayment scam. No legitimate job would ever overpay an employee and ask him/her wire the money elsewhere. This is a common trick used by scammers.
  • Some positions are more likely to be scams. Always be wary of work-from-home offers, secret shopper positions, or any job with a generic title, such as caregiver or customer service representative. These positions often don't require special training or licensing, so they appeal to a wide range of applicants. Scammers know this and use these otherwise legitimate titles in their fake ads.
  • If a job looks suspicious, search for it online. If the result comes up in other cities with the exact same  job post, it is likely a scam. Also, check the real company's job page to make sure the position is posted there.
  • Watch out for on-the-spot job offers. You may be an excellent candidate for thejob, but beware of offers made without an interview. A real company will want to talk to a candidate before hiring him or her.
  • Look for pay or perks well above similar positions. If similar jobs offer to pay $10/hour and this position pays $20/hour, chances are that there's a catch. 

For More Information

To find out more about other scams, check out BBB Scam Stopper (bbb.org/scam). To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker (bbb.org/scamtracker).

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The BBB is dedicated to fostering honest and responsive relationships between businesses and consumers in the U.S. and Canada, instilling consumer confidence and contributing to a trustworthy marketplace for all.

Social Media Gift Exchange is Really a Scam

It may only be November, but scammers are already taking advantage of holiday goodwill. The latest seasonal scam is a gift exchange that's actually a pyramid scheme. Look out for this con on Facebook, Instagram and other social sites. How the Scam Works:

It may only be November, but scammers are already taking advantage of holiday goodwill. The latest seasonal scam is a gift exchange that's actually a pyramid scheme. Look out for this con on Facebook, Instagram and other social sites.  

How the Scam Works:

You spot a friend's post on your Facebook or Instagram feed. It's inviting you to join a gift exchange, and it sounds like a great deal. If you buy one $10 gift for a stranger, you will receive as many as 36 gifts back. Some people are even posting photos of all the gifts they have received in the mail. 

This "gift exchange" is the latest version of a hoax that's been around for years. It's the same premise as a pyramid scheme and or the pre-Internet chain letters.  The idea is that you send money (or a gift) to the person at the top of the list, cross them off, add your name to the bottom and send the list to more friends. Eventually, you hope, your name will be at the top, and you will receive all the money/gifts.  However the scheme relies on constantly recruiting new participants, making it mathematically impossibly to sustain. This may seem like a harmless hoax, but these schemes are a form of gambling and illegal in the U.S. and Canada. 

Protect Yourself From Social Media Scams

Take the following steps to protect yourself and others from scam links shared through Facebook, Twitter and other social media: 

  • Don't take the bait. If it sounds too good or outlandish to be true, it's probably a scam. Stay away from promotions of anything "exclusive," "shocking," or "sensational."
  • Be careful of shortened links. Scammers use link-shortening services to disguise malicious links. Don't fall for it. If you don't recognize the link destination, don't click. 
  • Don't trust your friends' taste online. It might not actually be them "liking" or sharing scam links to photos. Their account may have been hacked or compromised by malware. 
  • Report the scam to Facebook. On Facebook report scam posts and other suspicious activity by following these instructions
  • Report the scam on Instagram. On Instagram report scam posts and other suspicious activity by following these instructions

For More Information

See examples of the social media posts in Buzzfeed's coverage of the scam and learn more about US Postal Inspectors' stance on chain letters

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The BBB is dedicated to fostering honest and responsive relationships between businesses and consumers in the U.S. and Canada, instilling consumer confidence and contributing to a trustworthy marketplace for all.

Veterans' Pensions - Protect Your Money From Poachers

Veterans and their families are a target for some dishonest advisers who are claiming to offer free help with paperwork for pension claims. The scheme involves attorneys, financial planners, and insurance agents trying to persuade veterans over 65 to make decisions about their pensions without giving them the whole truth about the long-term consequences.Veterans and their families are a target for some dishonest advisers who are claiming to offer free help with paperwork for pension claims. The scheme involves attorneys, financial planners, and insurance agents trying to persuade veterans over 65 to make decisions about their pensions without giving them the whole truth about the long-term consequences. Specifically, these unscrupulous brokers try to convince veterans to transfer their assets to a trust ­ or to invest in insurance products ­ so they can qualify for Aid and Attendance benefits. What they don’t reveal is that these transactions could mean that the veteran loses eligibility for Medicaid services or loses the use of their money for a long time. Adding insult to injury, the advisers are charging fees that range from hundreds to thousands of dollars for their services. Your best defense against someone who wants to poach your pension to get you a better deal? A firm “no, thanks.”

Questionable Advice

If you’re a veteran over 65, you may be approached by people with convincing come-ons offering to help you apply for supplemental pension benefits. Whether it’s through an ad or a website, the offer usually involves a free seminar and claims that:
  • “We’ll show you – for free ­ how to qualify for your benefits and stay in your home.”
  • “We guarantee you’ll get your Aid and Attendance pension.”
  • “As a veteran, you’re entitled to these benefits.”
The people behind these pitches, who may claim to be veterans’ advocates, also show up at assisted living facilities, senior centers, or other places in your community to help you submit your application for A&A benefits to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). But often, they’re unscrupulous lawyers, financial planners, or insurance agents who merely rent the space to deliver a lunch or some snacks along with a high-pressure sales pitch for their products and services. These so-called advisers may claim to be veterans to gain your trust and they appeal to your emotions to create anxiety and apprehension about your future. As a rule, they leave out important details; the truth is that if you follow their advice, you’re likely to end up without the supplemental pension benefits they promise, disqualified from other government benefits, and stuck in a financial investment that’s not in your ­ or your family’s ­ best interest for the long term. The offers almost always involve the Enhanced Pension with Aid and Attendance (also called A&A), which supplements a military pension but is only available in limited circumstances. The qualifications for A&A are specific and strict: You must be over 65; be eligible for a military pension; fall under an income threshold; and need help with daily living tasks (bathing, feeding, dressing, and toileting), be incapacitated physically or mentally, have severely limited eyesight, or be confined to bed or in a nursing home. A&A is never granted automatically either to veterans of a certain age or those with particular disabilities. __________________ The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the nation’s consumer protection agency. The FTC works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace.