When it comes to giving out money or personal information, there's one rule to follow to avoid fraud.
"If it looks too good to be true, it usually is," said Mike Galvin with the Better Business Bureau for Southeast Florida and the Caribbean.
Galvin said this is particularly true for consumers in Florida, where ID theft is prevalent.
"A lot of scams are directed toward the elderly," he said. "Our demographic lines itself up nicely for scam artists."
Others who are easy targets: tourists and immigrants. Scammers tend to target those who may not understand the language or the laws.
In the end, anyone can easily fall prey to fraud that promises that little bit extra for those who may be pressed for cash.
"People make irrational decisions based on some of these dream schemes, so to speak," Galvin said. "Everybody has a dream."
Here are the top 10 consumer fraud alerts to look out for:
1) Advance Fee Brokers
Businesses in need of commercial loans may look to loan brokers who promis to find needed funds for a fee, says the BBB. However, it is illegal for a business to charge a fee before giving a loan. In these cases, after wiring money to the scammer, the victim never receives the loan. The fake lenders will use false physicall addresses or the addresses of real companies.
2) Work-at-Home Schemes
While legitimate telecommuting jobs exist, many work-at-home offers are schemes. Consumers should watch out for the ones that require sending money for materials first. Never purchase services or products from a company that's hesitant to answer question and be wary of companies that offer high salaries in exchange for few skills and little work.
3) Credit Repair Services with Advance Fees
This type of operation targets consumers with poor credit ratings and offers services that an idividual can get at little to no cost. Credit repair operations can't ask for money in advance and can't automatically remove negative reports from your credit history.
4) Foreign Lotteries
Lotteries from foreign countries are illegal in the United States. Schemers may ask you to send money to obtain lottery winnings and use fake addresses that request you send "fees and taxes" through a wire service.
5) Office Supplies Sale by Deceptive Telemarketing
Schemers will send fake invoices for office supplies from a fake business, often for only a couple hundred dollars, making it likely company personnel will sign off on the invoice without checking its validity.
6) Prize Promotions
Consumers will be identified as winners of a prize and asked to provide money or personal information, such as a credit card or social security number, to verify being a winner. The information is then used to draw money from a victim's account or identity theft.
7) Paving, Painting & Home Improvement by “Traveling” Workers
Avoid giving money up front to a "traveling" worker who just happens to be in the neighborhood. Typically, the worker will disappear with the money without doing any work. Having access to your property will also give these scammers a chance to check what valuables you might have for a future burglary or ID theft.
8) Pyramid Companies
These are schemes because returns to investors are paid from personal money or money paid the newest investors instead of from any actual profit earned by the organization running the pyramid scheme. Often, payouts will exceed investments or the organizers will disappear with the funds that are sent to them.
If you're declared the winner of a sweepstakes you don't remember entering, be suspicious. Never send a prize giver money or your social security number.
10) Debt Relief Services (Non-Compliant With FTC Rule)
The Federal Trade Commission has established rules for debt relief services that govern disclosures and representations that the service can make, and does not allow advance fees. Debt relief companies that do not comply with the FTC rule are identified as scams by the BBB.
For more information visit www.bbb.org.