Top 10 scams of 2017 and how to avoid them

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Top 10 scams of 2017 and how to avoid them. (KTRK)

The Better Bureau of Business Greater Houston and South Texas released a list of the top scams impacting people throughout the area.

According to the Bureau over 1,200 scams were reported in 2017.

Here's a list of scams and how you can avoid them.

Phishing Scams
Typically, this scam is initiated by a call from an unfamiliar phone number or an unsolicited email trying to obtain personal or financial information. In 2017, BBB Houston often received multiple reports of the "Can Your Hear Me?" phone scam, where the caller is encouraged to answer "yes" to the question "Can you hear me?" If you answer yes, there is a possibility the scammer recorded you and will use your "agreement" to sign you up for a product or service and then demand payment.

Online Purchase Scams
This scam occurs when consumers pay for an item they never receive. While most online shopping sites are legitimate, scammers also set up fraudulent sites in order to steal personal or financial information. In 2017, BBB Houston received an influx of reports on online puppy scams, where consumers paid money to purchase these pets online but never receive their puppies.

Employment Scams
Scammers may say they have a job opening or guarantee job placement if you first pay a fee to cover the cost it takes to place you in a job. However, after you pay, the job never produces.
Tax Collection Scams
Someone calls claiming to be with the IRS or Treasury Department and says you owe money to the government, and if you don't pay now, you will be arrested. Scammers threaten you to send money via a prepaid debit card or wire transfer, and some people pay out of fear.

Tech Support Scams
You get a call or a pop-up ad on your computer claiming to be from Microsoft (or Norton, or Apple) about a problem on your computer. They say if you give "tech support" access to your hard drive, they can fix it. Instead, they install malware on your computer and start stealing your personal information.

Fake Check and Money Order Scams
You receive a check in the mail that is larger than the amount owed and are asked to deposit the check and wire the difference. However, the check ends up being a fake, and when it bounces, you are out of the money.

Government Grant Scams
This scam comes in the form of a phone call, email or letter claiming you qualify for a government grant. In order to receive the grant, you must first send a processing or delivery fee, usually through wire transfer or a prepaid debit card.

Debt Collection Scams
You receive a phone call from someone claiming you have an unpaid debt. You are threatened with garnishments, lawsuits and even prison if you don't pay immediately. The scammer will often use Caller ID spoofing and pretend to be a government agency or law enforcement in
order to invoke fear.

Advance Fee Loan Scams
An advance fee loan may seem like an easy way to get cash fast; however, outright scammers charge an upfront fee and will "guarantee" you a loan despite your credit history, and chances are, you won't get your money back.

Sweepstakes, Lottery and Prize Scams
You receive a phone call or email claiming you won a prize in a sweepstakes, perhaps one that you never entered. In order to receive the prize, you are instructed to send a fee to cover expenses associated with processing, insurance or delivery. Scammers will sometimes call and impersonate well-known and legitimate sweepstakes providers.
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