Dirty Dozen: 12 Scams Most Likely to Arrive Via Bulk Email

Updated July 10, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

Email boxes are filling up with more offers for business opportunities than any other kind of unsolicited commercial email. That's a problem, according to the Federal Trade Commission, because many of these offers are scams.

The FTC has identified the 12 scams that are most likely to arrive in consumers' email boxes. The “dirty dozen” are:

1. Business opportunities: Many of these are illegal pyramid schemes masquerading as legitimate opportunities to earn money.

2. Bulk email: Sending bulk email violates the terms of service of most Internet service providers. If you use one of the automated email programs, your ISP may shut you down.

3. Chain letters: Chain letters—traditional or high-tech—are almost always illegal, and nearly all of the people who participate in them lose their money.

4. Work-at-home schemes: You'll pay a small fee to get started in the business. Then, you'll learn that the email sender never had real employment to offer. Instead, you'll get instructions on how to send the same ad in your own bulk emailings.

5. Health and diet scams: Most of these gimmicks simply do not work.

6. Effortless income: If these get-rich-quick schemes worked, wouldn't everyone be using them?

7. Free goods: Most of these offers are covering up pyramid schemes, operations that inevitably collapse.

8. Investment opportunities: Many are schemes that eventually collapse because there isn't enough money coming in to continue simulating earnings. Other schemes are a good investment for the promoters, but not for participants.

9. Cable descrambler kits: The devices you use probably won't work. Most of the cable TV systems in the U.S. use technology that these devices can't crack.

10. Guaranteed loans or credit, on easy terms: The loans usually turn out to be useless lists of lenders who will turn you down if you don't meet their qualifications.

11. Credit repair: The scam artists who promote these services can't deliver. Only time, a deliberate effort, and a personal debt repayment plan will improve your credit.

12. Vacation prize promotions: Most unsolicited commercial email goes to thousands or millions of recipients at a time. Often, the cruise ship you're booked on may look more like a tug boat.

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