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Posing as an association or nonprofit, including as the Better Business Bureau, is among the top scams of 2011, according to the BBB.
BBB releases this list annually as a warning to the public that scammers will use common means of communications – email and websites most prevalently – to somehow get consumers’ information or worse, money.
The top scam in 2011 ironically involves the Better Business Bureau. “Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of people have gotten emails that very much look like an official notice from BBB,” the group reported. “The subject line says something like ‘Complaint Against Your Business,’ and the instructions tell the recipient to either click on a link or open an attachment to get the details. If the recipient does either, a malicious virus is launched on the person’s computer…a virus that can steal banking information, passwords and other critical pieces of information needed for cyber-theft.”
Two other scams that made the list involve abusing the public’s trust in the association/nonprofit community. The top phishing scam involves the phony “NACHA – the National Automated Clearing House Association.” According to the BBB, an email is sent that “claims one of your transactions did not go through, and it hopes you react quickly and click on the link before thinking it through. It may take you to a fake banking site to ‘verify’ you account information, or it may download malware to infiltrate your computer.”
The top financial scam again involves a fake BBB or another official-sounding consumer-oriented nonprofit. Websites for these phony groups are set up to prey on desperate people, such as those seeking mortgage relief. Most of the sites ask for an upfront fee to help the person deal with his mortgage company or a government agency. The person almost always is left in more debt, the BBB reports.