Crooks uses smart systems to trick millions of people every year. They often combine sophisticated technology with age-old tricks to make people send money or provide personal information. They add new twists to old arrangements and put pressure on people to make important decisions on the spot. One thing that never changes: they follow the news – and the money.
Take a step forward with the latest information and practical advice from the NBBA: the Consumer Protection Authority.
View NBBA fraud reports by topic:
  • Banking Scams

    • Report Banking Scams

      The proper organization to report a banking scam to depends on which type you were a victim of.

      How to Protect Yourself

      Remember these tips to avoid being a victim of a banking scam:

      Do

      • Be suspicious if you are told to wire a portion of funds from a check back to a company.
      • Be wary of lotteries or free trials that ask for your bank account number.
      • Verify the authenticity of a cashier’s check with the bank that it is drawn on before depositing a check.
      • When verifying a check or the issuer, use contact information on a bank’s website.

      Don’t

      • Don’t be fooled by the appearance of checks or money orders. Scammers can make them look legitimate and official.
      • Don’t deposit checks or money orders from strangers or companies you don’t have a relationship with.
      • Don’t wire money to people or companies you don’t know.
      • Don’t give your bank account number to someone who calls you, even for verification purposes.
      • Don’t click on links in email to verify your bank account.
      • Don’t accept a check that includes an overpayment.
    • Colleges and Universities

      • There are about 200 American colleges listed as “the Blacklisted Universities.”   You may be jailed and deported if you enter the U.S. with any of these schools’ I-20 (admission document).     Be aware of those student-visa mills.

        Alabama

        • Barrington University
        • Chadwick University
        • Clayton College of Natural Health
        • Universal Bible Institute

        Arkansas
        • Bettis Christian University

        Arizona

        • American Bible College University
        • North American Reformed Seminary
        • University of Sedona

        California

        • Cal Southern University
        • California Graduate School of Theology
        • Clayton Theological Institute
        • Frederick Taylor International University
        • Frederick Taylor University
        • Friends International Christian University
        • Golden State Baptist College
        • Golden State School of Theology
        • Hubbard College of Administration
        • International American University
        • International Bible University
        • International Theological University
        • Pacific National University and Theological Institute
        • Providence Christian College
        • Saint Luke School of Medicine Liberia
        • Saint Stephen’s Educational Bible College
        • University of Beverly Hills
        • University of Santa Monica
        • University of Sedona
        • West Coast Baptist College
        • American City University
        • Calvary Chapel Bible College
        • Colton University
        • Columbia Pacific University
        • Columbia State University
        • Eternity Bible College
        • Huntington Pacific University
        • Kensington University
        • Pacific Southern University
        • Preston University
        • Regent International University
        • Stanton University
        • Thunderwood College
        • Vision International University

        Colorado

        • Patriot Bible University

        Connecticut

        • Suffield University Operating illegally

        Delaware

        • Bircham International University
        • Concordia College and University
        • Trinity College and University

        Florida

        • Ames Christian University
        • Charis School of Divinity
        • Florida State Christian College
        • Holy Trinity College and Seminary
        • International Bible University
        • Life Christian
        • Miami Christian University
        • Pensacola Bible Institute
        • Pensacola Christian College
        • The Bible Doctrine Institute
        • Breyer State University
        • Weston Reserve University

        Georgia

        • Andersonville Theological Seminary Camilla
        • Georgia Christian University
        • Morris Brown College

        Hawaii

        • AIUMT (American International University of Management and Technology): it was closed by court order but is still in business somewhere somehow.   “This provider does not award recognized U.K. degrees.” – hedd.ac.uk
        • Akamai University
        • American Pacwest International University
        • American University of Hawaii
        • Atlantic International University
        • Beloved Community Seminary
        • Brighton University: closed by court order
        • Dorcas University
        • Honolulu University
        • IOND University
        • Kensington University
        • University of the Nations

        Idaho

        • Almeda University
        • Auberdeen University
        • Canyon College: it cannot issue degrees.   Besides, it used Canyon College which is an accredited school in Oregon. This is illegal in the U.S.

        Illinois

        • Illinois Theological Seminary Online
        • Intercontinental University

        Indiana

        • Hyles-Anderson College
        • Hyles-Anderson College Seminary
        • Master’s International School of Divinity
        • Trinity College and Seminary

        Kentucky

        • Kentucky Christian University

        Louisiana

        • Capital City Religious Institute
        • Cranmer Theological House
        • Crescent City Christian College
        • Delta International University
        • Kent College
        • LaSalle University
        • Louisiana Baptist University
        • Louisiana Christian University
        • Louisiana Missionary Baptist Institute and Seminary
        • Nations University
        • Fairfax University

        Massachussets 

        • AMBAI University: American Management & Business Administration Institute University

        Maryland

        • Saint Wolbodo Seminary
        • Massachusetts
        • Springfield Christian College and Theological Seminary

        Michigan

        • Apostolic Prophetic Bible College & Theological Seminary
        • Full Gospel Christian College
        • New Tribes Bible Institute
        • Western Michigan Bible Institute

        Minnesota

        • St. Paul’s College & Seminary

        Mississippi

        • Bienville University
        • Cambridge State University
        • Columbus University
        • Jacksonville Theological Seminary
        • Madison University
        • Novus University
        • University of Central Europe
        • University of Natural Health
        • American World University

        Missouri

        • Brighton University
        • International University of Ministry and Education Grandview
        • Pacific International University

        Montana

        • Mountain States Baptist College

        New Mexico

        • American Century University

        New York

        • Christian Leadership University
        • Interfaith Seminary (formerly Interfaith School of Theology)
        • Ambassador University Corporation
        • University Degree Program

        North Carolina

        • Christian Bible College
        • Barber-Scotia College

        Ohio

        • Ohio Christian College
        • American Global University

        Oklahoma

        • Heartland Baptist Bible College
        • Sancta Sophia Seminary

        Oregon

        • Canby Bible College
        • Communion of Saints Seminary
        • Dispensational Theological Seminary
        • New Tribes Bible Institute
        • Oregon College of Ministry
        • Portland Bible College
        • Success Seminary
        • Washington School of Theology
        • Faith Seminary
        • St Johns University School of Medicine Montserrat

        Pennsylvania

        • University of Berkley
        • Washington International University
        • Berne University

        South Carolina

        • Concordia Theologica Institute For Biblical Studies

        South Dakota

        • Bronte International University
        • Rushmore University
        • Thomas Jefferson Education Foundation

        Tennessee

        • Clarksville School of Theology
        • Hiwassee College
        • Knoxville College
        • Tennessee Christian University

        Texas

        • B. H. Carroll Theological Institute
        • Cranmer Theological House
        • Eastern Caribbean University
        • Texas Christian Bible University
        • Texas Theological University
        • Tyndale Theological Seminary
        • Christ For The Nations Institute
        • Paul Quinn College
        • Rochville University
        • Trinity Southern University
        • University of Esoterica

        Utah

        • George Wythe College

        Virginia

        • Carolina University of Theology
        • American National University
        • University of North America
        • University of Northern Virginia

        Washington

        • Crown College
        • Woolston-Steen Theological Seminary
        • University of Northern Washington

        Washington, DC

        • St. Regis University

        Wisconsin

        • New Tribes Bible Institute
        • Saint Luke School of Medicine Liberia

        Wyoming

        • American Central University
        • Hamilton University
        • Kennedy-Western University
        • Rochville University
        • Rutherford University
        • Warren National University
    • Health & Fitness

      • Shape-up Solution or Scam?

      • “Lose a pound a day!” “Look better naked!”

        We’ve all heard the breathless come-ons from the makers of all types of exercise products and weight-loss programs.

        They promise if you buy their “scientifically designed,” low-priced devices, you’ll lose fat and inches in almost no time with little effort. Some products like the Ab Energizer even claim to firm up flabby bellies by zapping them with electrical currents. No exercising necessary.

        Well, who wouldn’t want to carve out a rippling stomach while sitting on the couch munching Doritos? The problem is, not all fitness products and weight-loss programs are obvious phonies. Some seem like they might actually work.

        So how can someone shape up without getting burned?

        The advice isn’t as simple as saying you should avoid buying anything you see advertised on television. Plenty of products promoted on TV and in magazines do the job they promise. Many pitches for exercise products mix in enough truth with the hype that it’s not always easy to spot a fraud, says Cedric Bryant, chief exercise physiologist and vice president of the American Council on Exercise.

        “People fall for the notion of effortless exercise or getting dramatic results in a quick time,” he says. “But you have to look at those products with a jaundiced eye.”

    • Homes & Mortgages 

      • Every industry has its shining stars and bad apples. The mortgage industry is no exception. For most consumers, a mortgage will be the largest single purchase they make in their lifetime. This makes picking the right mortgage lender even more important. How do you know which companies to avoid? Look for these telltale signs.

        Scam Signs

        1. Not Taking Into Account Your Ability to Pay

        Your mortgage payment should be no more than 28% of your gross monthly income. It’s not the mortgage company’s job to create your household budget, but it should have a lot of questions regarding your finances. If it doesn’t, it’s probably not a company you want to deal with.

        2. Not Getting the Option to Purchase Points

        A “point” or “discount point” is like prepaying your mortgage interest. Borrowers purchase points to lower the amount of interest they will pay on the loan. Your lender should give you the option to lower your interest rate through the purchase of points.

        3. Excessive Loan Costs

        Many of the loan costs are fixed no matter how much you borrow. For a larger mortgage, expect the closing costs of your mortgage to be between 2% and 5%. If you’re borrowing less than $150,000, costs could exceed 5%. Some lenders will work costs into the loan in the form of a higher interest rate, but the lender should clearly disclose that to you. Always talk to multiple lenders about the total cost of the loan they are proposing. And if the costs are well beyond 5%, ask why before agreeing to the loan.

        4. Prepayment Penalties

        Lenders shouldn’t charge a penalty if you pay off your loan early. Unscrupulous lenders may charge prepayment penalties of 5% or more. These fees are now illegal in owner-occupied homes. If you see it, the loan is definitely a scam.

        5. Brokers and Lenders Who Don’t Clearly Disclose How They Are Paid

        If you’re working with a mortgage broker, ask how he or she will be paid. Brokers are paid a percentage of the total loan and must disclose what they earn. Mortgage bankers, banks and direct lenders can charge extra without disclosing what they are making.

        6. “Bad Credit Doesn’t Matter.”

        If you see this, don’t call, don’t e-mail, and don’t say yes to anything if the company approaches you. These loans are probably “predatory” in nature and will almost certainly come with terrible terms. These types of loans normally target lower-income individuals who are more likely to have damaged credit.

        7. Balloon Payments. 

        A balloon payment is a lump sum due at the end of the loan term. Sometimes the balloon payment can be as high as the amount originally financed. Balloon payments are no longer legal on owner-occupied homes but are still legal on investment properties. Carefully evaluate if a balloon payment is right for you.

        8. Income or Home Value Inflation

        A lender shouldn’t help you qualify for a loan by inflating your income or the value of the home. First, it’s not ethical or legal and, second, you can’t afford the loan anyway. If they’re willing to lie for you, they’re willing to lie to you. Not a company you want to do business with.

        9. No Good Faith Estimate

        Within three business days of receiving your mortgage application, a lender must provide a good faith estimate. (GFE). The GFE provides you with basic information about the loan including estimated costs of the loan. The estimate comes on a standardized HUD-GFE form that has to be used. If it comes on any other form, or you don’t receive the GFE within three days, don’t use that company.

        10. Fees Different From the GFE

        Your good faith estimate will contain an itemized list of costs associated with the mortgage with some very exact figures. Based on certain factors, it won’t necessarily remained unchanged when you receive the final mortgage paperwork to sign. Some of the fees are allowed to change by as much as 10%. Others shouldn’t change at all.

        The Bottom Line

        The old saying still rings true. If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Don’t fall for predatory loan tactics that may put you into a loan you can’t afford that has terrible terms.

        Use the many websites dedicated to helping you find the right mortgage. Additionally, talk to your bank or credit union.

    • Jobs & Making Money

      • Signs of a Job Scam

        Scammers advertise jobs where legitimate employers do — online, in newspapers, and even on TV and radio. Here’s how to tell whether a job lead may be a scam:

        You need to pay to get the job

        They may say they’ve got a job waiting, or guarantee to place you in a job, if you just pay a fee for certification, training materials, or their expenses placing you with a company. But after you pay, the job doesn’t materialize. Employers and employment firms shouldn’t ask you to pay for the promise of a job.

        You need to supply your credit card or bank account information

        Don’t give out your credit card or bank account information over the phone to a company unless you’re familiar with them and have agreed to pay for something. Anyone who has your account information can use it.

        The ad is for “previously undisclosed” federal government jobs

        Information about available federal jobs is free. And all federal positions are announced to the public on usajobs.gov. Don’t believe anyone who promises you a federal or postal job.

    • Money & Credit 

      • Equifax Data Breach

        Equifax, one of the three major credit reporting agencies in the U.S., announced a data breach that affects 143 million consumers. The hackers accessed Social Security numbers, birthdates, addresses, and driver’s license numbers.

        Equifax has launched a tool that will let you know if you were affected by the breach. Visit Equifax’s website dedicated to this breach to learn if you were impacted. You will need to provide your last name and the last six numbers of your Social Security number.

        If you are impacted, Equifax offers you a free credit monitoring service, TrustedIDPremier. However, you won’t be able to enroll in it immediately. You will be given a date when you can return to the site to enroll. Equifax will not send you a reminder to enroll. Mark that date on your calendar, so you can start monitoring your credit as soon as possible.

        If you detect suspicious activity on your credit report due to the breach, learn how to report it immediately.

        The FTC also offers more information to protect yourself after a data breach. Learn how to report and recover from identity theft at IdentityTheft.gov.

    • Privacy, Identity & Online Security

      • The Growing Challenge of Medical Identity Theft

        Medical ID theft happens when a thief acquires someone’s personal information, such as name, SSN, health insurance number, and/or address, for the purpose of illegally getting medical care, prescription drugs and insurance reimbursements.

        It can happen in the blink of an eye or with a simple stolen purse off the front seat. This is exactly what happened to one victim who left her purse while she went inside to pay for gas. Someone stole it while she was briefly inside.

        She took action to protect herself from identity theft by immediately filing a police report, canceling credit cards, applying for a new driver’s license and health insurance card, and checking her bank account multiple times. She thought the ordeal was over, but two years later she gets arrested for acquiring more than 1,700 prescription opioid painkillers through pharmacies in her area.

        “I had my mugshot and fingerprints taken,” according to the victim. She suffered from psoriasis and broke out in a rash because she was so stressed. “The policeman looked at my hands and said, ‘That’s what drug users’ hands look like.” They just assumed she was guilty.

        The thief had altered her driver’s license and used her stolen health insurance card to get a prescription for painkillers. It wasn’t until the pharmacist became suspicious and called the police that the jig was up.

        Look Out for Card Skimming

        Card skimming is a form of credit or debit card theft, and is another way to get completely blindsided when you find out your card is still in your possession, but all your money is gone from your bank account.

        Thieves can grab your credit and debit card information with small devices called skimmers. These card readers take the data from the card’s magnetic strip attached to ATM machines so that every time someone swipes their card, data is stolen. The criminal then comes back to the machine to pick up the file containing the stolen information. The thief will clone a card and simply break into bank accounts to steal money. Once all your money is drained, you won’t be able to pay your bills, which could negatively affect your credit score.

        Malware Based Phishing is Still a Threat

        This refers to a scam that runs malicious software on a user’s PC. Malware-based phishing uses notifications and alerts to trick the victim into supplying personal information, such as email password, bank account details, and other sensitive information.

        You may get an alert that your computer has a virus or needs a virus protection update, when that isn’t the case. This happens on global scale. In April 2017, over 300,000 computers were hacked by a virus called “WannaCry.” It affected over 50,000 companies in 150 countries by demanding ransoms. Hackers collected of $50,000 in payments. Luckily, a 22-year-old security researcher in the U.K. was able to stop the spread by locating a “kill switch.”

        Cybercrime and identity theft takes on many, many different forms that can lead to not only annoyance, but financial ruin, compromised personal safety and even a destroyed reputation. Our digital lives make it tough to avoid exploitation by criminals. To stay safe online, read up on necessary steps to protect your personal information.

      • Don’t Fall For the Romance Scam

        Is all fair in love and war? Not when it comes to romance scammers who are merely online imposters out to break hearts and bank accounts. Here’s an example of how this happens:

        A woman in her 50s is struggling in her marriage or is recently divorced, so she gets online and is happy to chat with someone who is interested in her. She feels a connection with him — a connection that ends up costing her over $2 million, or every cent she owned, according to the FBI.

        Con artists know how to exploit vulnerable people, especially when potential victims post details about their personal lives on social media and dating sites. They aren’t protecting their privacy enough. Mostly, the scams involve grooming a victim for months, sending them gifts and love notes, even proposals of marriage. Predators usually concoct some crazy story about how they need money so they can come and visit or pay for an emergency of some kind. Soon enough, someone has spent their life savings on “helping” the perpetrator.

        Trolling for victims online “is like throwing a fishing line,” said Special Agent Christine Beining, a veteran financial fraud investigator in the FBI’s Houston Division. Someone will eventually take the bait and can wind up broke.

    • Telephone Scams

      Telephone scammers try to trick you out of money or get access to your personal information. Scams may come through phone calls from real people, robocalls, or text messages. The callers often make false promises, such as opportunities to buy products, invest your money, or receive free product trials. They may also offer you money through free grants and lotteries. Some scammers may call with threats of jail or lawsuits if you don’t pay them.

      Report Telephone Scams

      Reporting scams to federal agencies helps them collect evidence for lawsuits against people committing these scams. However, federal agencies don’t investigate individual cases of telephone scams.

      Also report the scam to your state consumer protection office. Some consumer protection offices help residents resolve consumer problems.

      How to Protect Yourself

      Remember these tips to avoid being a victim of a telephone scam:

      Do

      • Register your phone number with the National Do Not Call Registry. You may register online or by calling 1-888-382-1222. If you still receive telemarketing calls after registering, there’s a good chance that the calls are scams.
      • Be wary of callers claiming that you’ve won a prize or vacation package.
      • Hang up on suspicious phone calls.
      • Be cautious of caller ID. Scammers can change the phone number that shows up on your caller ID screen. This is called “spoofing.”
      • Research business opportunities, charities, or travel packages separately from the information the caller has provided.

      Don’t

      • Don’t give in to pressure to take immediate action.
      • Don’t say anything if a caller starts the call asking, “Can you hear me?” This is a common tactic for scammers to record you saying “yes.” Scammers record your “yes” response to use as proof that you agreed to a purchase or credit card charge.
      • Don’t provide your credit card number, bank account information, or other personal information to a caller.
      • Don’t send money if the caller tells you to wire money or pay with a prepaid debit card.

Tech Support Scams

    • The phone rings, and the caller claims to be a Microsoft or Apple tech support representative who has detected a problem with your computer. He or she urges you to visit a particular site, or type a series of keys into your computer, to give the fake support person the ability to control the machine and “fix” whatever is wrong.Alternatively, a popup window appears on your screen, warning that your system isn’t secure and you must download security software by clicking on a link in the popup immediately. In both cases, the scammer is aiming to download malicious software onto your machine to either steal your data or to hold your machine hostage until you pay some sort of ransom.How you know it’s a scam: Real tech support departments don’t call you out of the blue nor can they detect problems you haven’t reported. And while you do need security software for your computer, you’re not going to find it by clicking on a popup ad. Most computers come with security software. All that’s necessary to keep yours up to date is to renew your annual subscription.