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BBB TIPS, A COLUMN BY MARJORIE STEPHENS

Don’t fall for online car ad, Medicare card con

Thursday, February 14, 2013 - 6:48 am

This is a consumer advice column written by the Better Business Bureau of Northern Indiana. It appears Thursdays in Business.

Better Business Bureau serving northern Indiana warns of the following:

Online ad for car in South Bend: Pay $500 & we’ll transport!

When searching for goods and services on Craigslist, you will find a disclaimer, when clicking on ads that says: “Avoid scams, deal locally! Do not wire funds (Western Union, Money gram). Beware cashier checks, money orders, shipping, non-local buyers/sellers.” This does not deter opportunists from knowingly trying to scam people. Also, it doesn't always deter buyers from falling for these schemes, which is why the opportunists keep at it.

One was reported to the Better Business Bureau, recently, that caused some concerns because the person, behind the scheme, went to great lengths to make this opportunity seem authentic. An example shows a photo of a vehicle under the headline, “1973 lesabre convertible - $1500 (South Bend, Indiana)” with information to contact “Hudson Automotive.”

Upon checking with the South Bend Police Department, the Secretary of State, and various other agencies, no such company (Hudson Automotive) at 3002 W. Sample St. exists. In fact, the street number doesn't exist.

The website for the fake company (hudsonautomotivein.com) looks authentic enough. In fact, so does the contract, the warranty paperwork, and the credit application, which asks for the buyer's and any co-buyer's Social Security number.

The only thing that raised a red flag of this being a possible scam is the seller wanted money wired to pay for the shipping of the vehicle. Even the phone number and one of the fax numbers used a South Bend area code.

A Hudson Automotive does exist in Indiana, but there is definitely no affiliation to this. In fact, they have been fielding calls about this offer. They are not even in the same city.

Should you see this offer or offers similar to it, proceed with caution. If you have any questions about a business's reputation, check with your Better Business Bureau. Remember, too, that it's always good to have a vehicle inspected by a mechanic, before purchase. To not do so is a good way to wind up with a lemon, with no warranty, and no recourse for returning the vehicle.

New Medicare card scare

Senior citizens are receiving calls from individuals with heavy, foreign accents, who speak in a broken, English dialect.

The individuals are calling, insisting that the seniors need to renew their Medicare cards.

They confirm the name and address of the Medicare recipient. Apparently, they are working from lists with this information and are making calls, nationwide. In order to receive the new Medicare card, they mandate that checking account information is required. Fortunately, not everyone falls for this, but there are those who do respond to these scare tactics.

Should you have any concerns about whether you need a new Medicare card, contact the customer service number on the back of your card. To report incidents of this type of scam, contact the Medicare Fraud Hotline at 1-866-893-9622.

Marjorie Stephens is the communications director for the Better Business Bureau of Northern Indiana. Before you make a purchase, go to the BBB website at www.neindiana.bbb.org or call 423-4433 or toll-free 1-800-552-4631 to check out a business.