Sustained Outrage

Top consumer scams of 2009

The Better Business Bureau has released its list of the worst consumer scams from last year. Steve Cox, council of Better Business Bureaus President and CEO, said:

While many of the scams on the list are perennial problems, some scams were distinct in 2009 because of the economic climate and scammers’ penchant for taking advantage of the top headlines.

Some scams plagued different parts of the country more than others. For example, in places particularly hit by the housing crisis, bogus offers for foreclosure rescue or debt assistance ran rampant.

Here’s the full list, in no particular order:

  1. Acai Supplements and Other “Free” Trial Offers – Ads offering trial offers for teeth whiteners, acai anti-aging pills and other miracle supplements blanket the Internet, including trusted Web sites of national news organizations. The marketing campaigns often falsely claimed an endorsement by Oprah, Rachel Ray and Doctor Oz. Thousands of consumers complained to BBB that the free trial actually cost them as much as hundreds of dollars, month after month.
  2. Stimulus/Government Grant Scams – Even before President Obama announced the stimulus plan in February, scammers had already set up schemes for misleading consumers and small business owners into thinking they could get a piece of the pie. Offers for worthless assistance and advice on how to get government grants bombarded consumers online, over the phone and via mail and e-mail.

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