3 most popular scams you should know about right now

HOUSTON – As 2019 comes to a close, We thought it was time for a check-in with the Houston Better Business Bureau. We asked President Dan Parsons to share the most common scams they’re hearing from Houston consumers right now.

Scam No. 1: Fake online businesses

While the BBB exists to help resolve complaints between consumers and businesses, Parsons said consumers are calling in about businesses that don’t actually exist.

“Half the time there is not a business or a company or even an address to send (the complaint)... especially in the cyber world,” Parsons said.

With more and more people shopping online, consumers are getting tricked into ordering from fake businesses. You send the money. They never send the goods. Save yourself some heartache and look up the company on the BBB. Even Googling the business will give you a sense of how long they've been around.

“If you go to our BBB report or you go to reviews and they’re all like brand spanking new, like within the last month, what is wrong with this picture?” Parsons said.

Scam No. 2: Government Impostors

If you answer the phone to the IRS, Social Security office or any government agency, Just go ahead and hang up.

“Government agencies do not contact you on the phone, end of story,” said Parsons.

Scam No. 3: Gift Card Fraud

This is still a thing.

If you just go into a store, during the holidays especially, there is usually a display where people can pick from a variety of gift cards. If you grab a gift card from these spots with open access to the public, you are more at risk to this scam.

“You’re playing gift card roulette if you’re going to the (display) in the store and just pulling (the card) off and taking it,” said Parsons.

When possible, it is much less risky to ask for a gift card from a cashier or get on that is kept in a secure location behind a counter.

If that’s not possible, always make sure the pin on the gift card is not visible. Someone could have recorded the number and as soon as you activate that card, they’ll spend the balance online.