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Consumer watchdog series exposing scams in south central Indiana
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Bloomington Beware – Scams On Us 1

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A highly suspicious phone call offering “business owners” a highly questionable benefit came in just as this week’s script was being written — what timing!

Bloomington Beware! – Bad News & Good News

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The internet is coming to resemble something that happened 100 years ago – World War I. But the good guys are fighting back!

Bloomington Beware! – Year End Review

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Well, the old year is fast running out. It’s Christmas Eve already, WFHB News is on hiatus this week, and that means Bloomington Beware won’t be repeated in the evening as usual. So listen up and make a special effort to clue your friends and family in on any of this news they might be able to use.

We’ve reported on all kinds of frauds, con games and swindles this year, and still haven’t caught them all. Increasing global connectivity has been a hothouse for scammers; they’ve multiplied at an unbelievable rate, and this trend bids fair to continue in the New Year…so here’s a quick look at some of the traps and pitfalls they’re putting in everybody’s path, pretty much every day now.

Ponzi Schemes (or “pyramid schemes”) continue to sucker people into investing hard-earned savings in get-rich quick schemes. They always promise you a huge return on your money – but only the people who get on board first ever see any returns. The evil financial wizards who run these things simply keep recruiting more investors, and use their money to make payments…until the whole thing inevitably collapses, the promoter disappears with a pile of cash, and most of the people who bought into the scheme are left holding an empty bag. ANY investment which claims you’ll get a very large payback, very quickly, is seriously suspect. Don’t invest your money anywhere without checking things out very thoroughly first, or without talking to friends, family, or an investment counselor.

But beware of FAKE investment counselors. Senior citizens, especially, are favorite targets for people who claim to have financial credentials and experience – but really only have a glib tongue and gobs of greed – according to the A-A-R-P scamwatch. Someone you know well, someone a friend or family member has used for a long time, or someone who works for a large, long-established company, are the safest bets…and an investment advisor who finds YOU is much more likely to be a crook than one you find, after asking around and doing some serious checking.

Affinity Fraud is another oldie-but-a-baddie, and it often works all too well. That’s when the swindler targets a group of people who have something in common. It can be a shared interest in something – like cars, mystery novels, collectibles, or even membership in a church or some other perfectly legitimate organization. They play on your emotions, and build trust by pretending to share the common bond. All too often, they manage to bamboozle some innocent group member and get him or her to sell other group members on the swindle. Just because you heard about a great deal from somebody you’ve known all your life doesn’t mean you still don’t have to check it out yourself.

And there are many, many more – fake charities, phishing emails, data breaches at big companies – even if we could list them all, we don’t have enough time. But the good news is, checking things out is a lot easier than it used to be, if you can go online. The Better Business Bureau’s website at b-b-b dot o-r-g is a great place to start. The Indiana Attorney General maintains an excellent website – easily found with a quick search. And just searching for “scams and frauds” or something like that will turn up a whole list of websites from the FBI, the Federal Trade Commission, and private organizations where you can search for people and company names, or keywords, and get tipped off before you get ripped off. Have a wonderful holiday ….and stay safe!

Bloomington Beware! – Holiday Scams Part 3

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More info and warnings about holiday-themed scams that are suckering all too many victims at a time when we all should be happy and trusting, instead of fearful and suspicious.

Bloomington Beware! – Holiday Scams Part 2

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There are more rotten rumors and crafty con-games going around this time of year than are dream’t of in your imagination, Horatio, and here’s the lowdown on more of them…even if your name isn’t Horatio.

Bloomington Beware! – Holiday Scams

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The Holidays are a big time for both stores and scammers. Here’s a headsup on three of the con games that are going around right now.

Bloomington Beware! – Work At Home Scams

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It sounds like a fabulous way to make extra money or keep yourself afloat financially, but instead of throwing you a life-preserver, these fraudsters are strapping you to an anchor and tossing you overboard.

Bloomington Beware! – Ebay Scams

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The BBB has issued a warning about Ebay listings which take you to fake websites and steal your personal info. This could happen with most any online commercial site, and here’s how to spot the con and avoid it.

Bloomington Beware! – Top Ten Online Blunders

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Indiana’s own David Letterman inspired this list of the Top Ten stupidest mistakes people can make on the internet — useful anytime, and especially with the holiday shopping season coming up.

Bloomington Beware! – Halloween!

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Let’s keep kids safe! Here’s our regular reminder about what to watch out for — and what you don’t need to worry about — on this annual Fright Night.

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