Elliot Greenblott | Fraud Watch: Five Current Scams To Avoid | Business



Temperatures are dropping and the sun is declining. It’s time to heat things up and shed some light on the scams that are gaining traction. Whether by email, phone, text, mail or even door-to-door, criminals target all age groups. Here are a few scams currently circulating.


With supply chain bottlenecks and shipping delays, beware of companies that offer to get products quickly and cheaply. Con artists play on our emotions, and the prospect of not being able to complete your holiday shopping list increases anxiety levels.

Elliott Greenblott |  Fraud Watch: Beware of the hotspot for new scams

The scam could involve an engaging website, personalized email, phone call, or text from an unknown company promising you in-demand items quickly, easily, and possibly at a discount or with free shipping. Before you make the purchase, ask yourself a simple question: How can an unknown company outsmart Amazon, Target, Walmart, Best Buy, and other big retailers? The answer is simple: they can’t.

Check with the company before providing your credit card number. A possible sign of a scam may be simply finding out when the business was started. Start with a simple Google search for the name and include the word “scam” or “review” in the search line.

No computer, contact the Better Business Bureau at 508-652-4800, or bbb.org/us/ma, which monitors most of New England. If this turns out to be a scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov.

High school students

It’s time to complete the financial aid applications for 2022-2023. FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is usually the form that must be submitted. Beware of crooks. You may be contacted by someone who offers help for further help or a faster decision. Often times, they will also charge a fee to complete or file the application.

FAFSA filings are free and the granting of financial aid is determined by academics and family income. Never pay someone else to complete and file the form. If you supplement with false information, you could be fined or sentenced to jail. FAFSA forms contain personal information, including family income, assets, and Social Security numbers. Providing data to a crook puts you in extreme danger. If you need help, use the studentaid.gov website or ask a counselor at your school.

Who is who

Companies mail out announcements noting selection for inclusion in Who’s Who directories (I happen to be the recipient of a letter and a phone call). Some of these requests are legitimate, some are not. Recognition and flattery force some people to react. For others, inclusion is seen as an opportunity to promote themselves in a job search or application to school.

Elliott Greenblott |  Fraud surveillance: catphishing aims to attract victims to hook, line and sinker

Whatever the reason, keep in mind that you are providing a stranger with details about your education, job, interests, activities, contact details, and maybe much more. Before responding, do some basic research to determine the legitimacy of the offer. This can be done again by contacting the Better Business Bureau at bbb.org/us/ma or 508-652-4800.

If you are nominated and respond, you may be asked to purchase a copy of the book listing your information. Do not provide a credit card number unless you want to purchase the directory. Some directories can cost over $ 500 a copy.

Protection and savings

Do you have a credit card balance with a high interest rate? Does your car warranty expire? These are two of the current phone scams that most likely come in the form of automated calls.

Whatever the message, hang up. If you need what’s on offer, use a reputable service like Consumer Reports to research what’s available.

It’s time to winter

Beware of unsolicited door-to-door offers to winterize your home. According to the FBI and law enforcement, scams offering to overwinter cheaply are being reported all over New England. If you are approached, ask for proof of identity: proof of insurance and local references.

Contact local law enforcement and ask if they are aware of any scams in the area. Never prepay for promised work. Report it to local law enforcement if it turns out to be a scam

Questions, concerns? Contact me, egreenblott@aarp.org.

Elliott Greenblott is a retired educator and coordinator of the AARP Vermont Fraud Watch Network. He hosts a CATV program, Mr. Scammer, distributed by GNAT-TV in Sunderland, Vermont, www.gnat-tv.org.


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