Are you 'scam smart'?

Jan 11, 2012

It pays to be a bit paranoid these days. The digital age makes it easy for scammers to reach out and touch your wallet.

The Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington has released its list of the top scams seen in 2011. It includes "phishing", bogus lotteries and secret shopper schemes.

Phony BBB emails are being received by many businesses and organizations. The emails appear to be complaints registered with the BBB, but scammers are using them to "phish" for usernames and passwords and/or to deliver viruses and other malware.

Is that email or phone call really from your bank? The safest thing to do is to initiate the contact yourself. Rather than click on links contained in an alleged banking email, log in to your banking site as you normally would. If your bank is really trying to contact you, you'll find a message from them when you log in. Or call your bank's customer service number (but always call them; you never know who's really calling you).

Penny auction sites may appear to be a great way to score bargains, but can wind up costing you more than you expect.

Cheating contractors have always been a big problem. They do it the old fashioned way, going door-to-door, doing shoddy work or taking down payments for jobs they never complete.

Bogus sweepstakes and foreign lotteries. No legitimate contests require you to send in a fee before getting your prize. And if you didn't enter the contest, why would you be a winner?

Secret shopper and work at home schemes are rampant in this down economy. High paying jobs with no experience necessary? If it sounds too good to be true...it is.

If you want to report a scam or learn more about them, go to the BBB Scam Source.