Scam Problems? Better Business Bureau Can Help!
by Gerri Bryce
Chicken or Egg?
I don't know exactly where or how it all began. I had to talk to a few Better Business Bureau(http://www.bbb.org/) personnel to find out some statistics about fraudulent companies, if any, that they might have inadvertently put in their list. While I was at it, I was hearing stories about scholarship scams. Then people who complain of identity theft on their credit card accounts. Then people with credit score problems. When I went home, I was just riddled with questions about the whole credit card processing dilemma. Chicken or egg? Merchant account owner or credit card holder? Who's the real victim?
The Better Business Bureau had issued a warning on everyone from parents to students who wish to go to college to be careful with scholarship offers. Who wants to be scammed? If you visit their website, you will see a good list of signs for you to figure out if you are on the verge of being tricked by a financial aid fraudster. My opinion is that with a little bit of common sense and savvy against white collar crimes like these, students and parents won't be scammed. Most of these "modi operandi" may be relayed through telemarketing or direct mail. A graduating high school student, for example, will be told she won a scholarship grant with a check attached in the mail. She will then be advised to cash it out from the bank, then pay additional X dollars for transaction fees. Are several thousand dollars for a tuition fee not tempting enough? The check will look so authentic that even banks will find it hard to distinguish that it is fake until several weeks later.
Then, how will anyone find out that the scholarship grant is real or not? Check out the Better Business Bureau list. It will save you a limb.
People complain of bad credit score, ask for a credit report from Experian, then find out someone else has stolen their name, Social Security number, and credit card details. How did it happen? Most of them would be at loss until they realize they must have thrown some important documents on the trash can and some shrewd thief picked up the "gift". Or worse, some establishments like pawn shops who have taken their personal information have carelessly discarded those documents somewhere -- a blessing for credit card criminals. Identity theft happens both online and offline. Without a secure anti-hacking system in a website's server or database, anyone can be a victim of unscrupulous credit card identity theft.
How can anyone find out if their credit card and other financial details are not stolen? Ask for a credit report from the major credit card bureaus such as TransUnion, Experian and Equifax annually. Dispute suspicious looking items as needed.
The real misery people face is when they soon find out they cannot make new loans, pay for mortgage, buy a new car, acquire a new credit line, or get a new job due to bad or poor credit score. This is when they resort to credit counseling -- either free or with fee. If they can dispute their credit score personally, then they won't need the services of a credit repair or debt consolidation company. This is only an option. However, these companies can provide services if people with bad credit have a number of negative items in their credit report that are difficult to dispute.
How can people know if they are dealing with a reputable credit card repair service company? Consult with the Better Business Bureau or do some background research on the company. These companies may be using some form of reliable and secure backup protection system such as high risk merchant account services.