Learn the Ins and Outs of 8(a) Certification to Succeed In Govt. Contracting

One way for small business owners to gain traction in federal contracting is through the 8(a) certification, the SBA’s program for socially and economically disadvantaged firms.  Through the 8(a) program, billions of dollars worth of contracts are set aside for only 8(a) certified firms. Learning to correctly certify under the 8(a) program gives a company the opportunity to take advantage of set aside contracts and specialized business training – thus increasing chances of success.

For the last couple of months, we’ve been sending you webinar information on special one-hour, one-on-one mentorship sessions where a federal contracting expert has mentored a small business owner on how to strategically expand into the federal contracting arena. These webinars are a part of the Give Me 5 program – a national program by American Express OPEN and Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) to help women businesses owners access and win government contracts.

As part three of this training session, Ann Sullivan, WIPP Government Relations and Give Me 5 instructor, will help business owner Regina LePak of Frances Construction, Inc., learn the ins and outs of 8(a) certification. 

During the one-hour webinar, Ann will discuss the process of becoming 8(a) certified, how a business owner can use the certification to their advantage, and the potential pitfalls to avoid once certified.
Additional information can be found below:

Give Me 5 315– Lessons Learned: The Ins and Outs of 8(a) Certification

Date: Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Time: 3-4 p.m. ET / 12 p.m.-1 p.m. PT
Where: Virtual

Registration is open to everyone; more details can be found here: http://www.wipp.org/events/event_details.asp?id=137550.

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Last Week - Help Bounty Clean Schools

Building off the success of Bounty Record’s first two “Bring It” music videos, Bounty has released “Snowbody Does It Better” featuring the Paper Towel Gang and Santa’s little helpers.

There is one week left in the “2,000,000 Views to Help Clean Schools” drive! If Bounty gets 2,000,000 YouTube views of the new Bounty holiday music video by Jan. 31st, they’ll make a one-time donation of $200,000 worth of paper towels (retail value) to PTO Today to give to schools in need of clean learning environments.

Check out the Bounty Facebook page or Youtube
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Worldwide Forum Connecting Women Engineers and Girls Expands from 24 Hours to Six Days

Innovations in engineering and technology address many of the world’s most complex challenges—clean water, new medicines, and safe roads. Everything we know has been touched by engineering. Thought leaders agree that jobs in these fields are the jobs of the future. Yet, in almost every corner of the world, there is too little talent in the science, technology, engineering, and math pipeline. One solution: Tap the potential that women offer. 

Part inspiration and part information, the Global Marathon For, By and About Women in Engineering and Technology is an annual worldwide forum connecting professional women, college students and girls for virtual and in-person conversations about education and careers in engineering and technology.

The 2011 event, scheduled for March 7-12, has been expanded from 24 hours to six days to accommodate an increase in programming. It is the only event of its kind connecting women in engineering and technology worldwide across a diverse range of disciplines, experience levels, ages, interests, backgrounds, cultures, industries and employers.

Nan Mattai, senior vice president, Rockwell Collins Engineering & Technology is chairing. Cindy Kou, program director, Lotus Collaborative Productivity Tools, IBM China will serve as vice-chair.

Individuals from corporations, universities, non-profit and community organizations, and others will participate in real-time, live group events, webcasts, Internet chats and teleconferences in any of 6 regions on these dates:
o        Monday, March 7 – Kick-off and North America
o        Tuesday, March 8 – China
o        Wednesday, March 9 – India
o        Thursday, March 10 – Africa/Middle East
o        Friday, March 11 – Brazil/Mexico
o        Saturday, March 12 – UK/Europe, ‘Student Outreach Day’ and event close in North America

New for 2011 is a geocaching event that will start on March 7 and span the globe. Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played by adventure seekers around the world equipped with GPS devices. Clues to discover the caches will be given on the Global Marathon website, www.globalmarathon.net, the Global Marathon Facebook page and elsewhere. The Global Marathon geocaching event showcases how engineering and technology contribute to this fun activity and connect people worldwide. 
For more information or to be part of the Global Marathon please visit www.globalmarathon.net.

Sponsors for the 2011 Global Marathon include: Rockwell Collins, Agilent, Motorola Foundation and ExxonMobil.

About Engineers Week
The National Engineers Week Foundation, a formal coalition of more than 100 professional societies, major corporations and government agencies, is dedicated to ensuring a diverse and well-educated future engineering workforce by increasing understanding of and interest in engineering and technology careers among young students and by promoting pre-college literacy in math and science.  Engineers Week also raises public understanding and appreciation of engineers' contributions to society.  Founded in 1951, it is among the oldest of America's professional outreach efforts.  Co-chairs for 2011 are Raytheon and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

 For more information, visit www.eweek.org.

Singing Talent Search for Women Around The World

If you asked ANY mother what her top 5 complaints would be, you would most likely hear something similar to this:

1)      I miss alone time!
2)      I need a vacation!
3)      I don’t feel “pretty” anymore.
4)      We never get out of the house.
5)      Does anyone even hear me?

If you are woman over 18 with an amazing singing voice, thanks to Avon Voices, your woes can be over.

Avon Voices is Avon’s first-ever global online singing talent search for women and songwriting competition for men and women.  A panel of celebrity judges, including Fergie, Natasha Bedingfield, Sheila E., Diane Warren and more are on hand, providing singing tips and helping select our finalists. 

And if you are picked as a finalist, you’ll get the chance to TRAVEL (takes care of the vacation) to Hong Kong, Rio de Janiero, Paris, Hollywood, New York or Nashville, plus PHOTO AND VIDEO SHOOTS, a PROFESSIONAL MAKEOVER and coaching (will get you feeling pretty again).  The best part is, the winners may get the opportunity record a professionally produced album (the whole world will now hear you). 

It takes 30 seconds.  Record a video of you singing 30 seconds of a hit song from the approved list that you can do right from your home.  It’s a year-long competition, but YOU only have until February 13, 2011 to submit a 30-second video clip at www.avonvoices.com.  

Videos of celebrity judges and other information about Avon Voices can be found on our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/avonvoicesThis program benefits the Avon Foundation for Women’s global campaign to end violence against women and girls.

You and Your Scientist

Headlines have been, yet again, trumpeting statistics about how American children lag behind many countries in math and science skills. With high school seniors performing below the national average for 21 countries, one worries about the fate of the country that gave the world electricity, airplanes, rockets, the internet, and lasers, to name a few.

Save our scientists! Learning about math and science begins at home. You can teach your kids about rocket science by launching a bottle into the air (experiment is in here!), oceanography by removing salt from water (experiment is in here!), and hovercraft technology with a CD or DVD, a balloon, and a plastic bottle cap.

Perfect for science fair projects and keeping little people occupied during breaks from school, Workman's Mad Science Club presents 12 easy, safe experiments for kids taken from the pages of their books about science. Please find a link to each downloadable experiment below:
A downloadable "OFFICIAL MAD SCIENTIST" diploma is attached as well. Who knows, you may be nurturing the next Marie Curie! That's right, it comes down to you.

Super Bowl XLV: The Ultimate Man Date

Guest post by Beth Feldman

Editor's note: Although, I would love to attend the Super Bowl event, in reality I will watching the  Super Bowl with my family at home.  How will you spending it?

Ask any football loving fan what their dream date would be and nine times out of 10 he'll say tickets to the Super Bowl. As my father-in-law always says, "you can't put a price on a good time," so if you're considering biting the bullet and treating your significant other to the ultimate "Man Date," follow this game plan and you'll come up a winner:

Super Bowl Tickets - You can reserve seats for the big game on StubHub - Ticket prices start at $2200 all the way up to nearly $400,000 for a coveted spot in the Hall of Fame Suite. If you've just won Powerball, then the Super Bowl Hall of Fame option is definitely for you. The best thing about Stub Hub is that fans are constantly buying and selling tickets on the site so you should keep checking back to see what's available or hedge your bets, and lock in right now!

Flights - While you can always hit the websites for your favorite airlines, my suggestion is to head over to Trip Advisor where you can select whether you'd like to take a non-stop or connecting flight and they arrange everything by price. Plus, there are ratings by customers on which flights they prefer.

Hotel Reservations - Head on over to the Arlington, Texas website which has detailed information on hotels in the area. You can aim for the Ritz Carlton, Hilton or a motel (if you've blown all your cash on the Super Bowl tix.)

Rental Car - If you're flying into Dallas/Ft. Worth airport, then head on over to RentalCars.com for a breakdown of all the rental car facilities near the airport. That way, you can choose from a diverse array of options and price points.

Parking Finding parking at a football game is never easy, and the Super Bowl is no different. Luckily, ParkWhiz.com has the scoop on Cowboys Stadium parking with over 40 Super Bowl parking locations for you to choose from. The site is super easy to use, and you can print you parking pass instantly - no worrying if the Postal Service will deliver your ticket on time.

You can even win free parking for the Super Bowl by entering ParkWhiz's Twitter contest. Follow @ParkWhiz on Twitter, re-tweet this link http://bit.ly/gBPrxv and be entered to win. One winner randomly selected.

Things to Do While in Arlington - If you're in town for the weekend, visit the NFL Super Bowl website for details about some great charity events taking place throughout the weekend that feature appearances by NFL players. Plus, the City of Arlington's official website also offers suggestions for attractions and dining options in the area.

So there you have it - treat your significant other to the ultimate "Man Date" and by the time Valentine's Day hits, you should be on the receiving end of something big and sparkly.

Disclosure: The post was sponsored by the Role Mommy Writer's Network.
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Daily Deals For Moms, Babies and Kids

Zulily is fabulous! It's a new online store offering daily sales events on top-quality apparel, gear and other goodies for moms, babies and kids. They carry the best brands at the lowest prices. Members enjoy savings of up to 70% off retail prices. Zulily loves to find deals on favorite styles, and they love introducing our members to exciting new brands, too.

Zulily is not a traditional online store. Instead, they feature new items every day. They find great buys from lots of brands and work with them to ship you the goods. Zulily events last 72 hours . . . then they're gone! New brands move in and get their three days on the site.

Each weekday, they offer at least five limited-time shopping events. Membership is free.

Cosmo Deal!


Cosmo has two special deals going on right now: $5 subscription for one year, and also a chance to win in their daily sweepstakes.  Oh and you can order Marie Clair one year subscription for $5.   

Check out the daily sweepstakes:  .  For more information on subscription orders, go here.   

FTC:  I am a bzzagent, therefore offering you these special opportunities.

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Play Safe Buying Bears/Packers Championship Tickets

The Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois alerts fans purchasing tickets to the upcoming Chicago Bears-Green Bay Packers NFC championship game on Sunday to be cautious when buying tickets online.

According to StubHub.com the secondary–ticket market is a $10 billion dollar a year industry which includes professional brokers, speculators and season ticket holders. Because many of these sellers are not licensed or bonded and are often found on unregulated online auctions, online classifieds, and bulletin boards using person to person sales sports fans need to be more skeptical and on the alert.

“Chicago Bears fans need to do their research before spending large amounts of money on NFC Championship tickets,” said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “Sports fans are often blinded by their devotion to their team and run the risk of putting their trust in a seller that doesn’t deserve it.”

In the past twelve months alone, there have been 171 complaints filed and more than 20,000 inquiries to the BBB about companies in the “Ticket Sales – Events” category.

If you are considering buying tickets on the secondary market, the Better Business Bureau offers the following tips to ensure a successful transaction:

·         Check to make sure the broker is licensed as required in the state of Illinois.
·         Avoid paying cash for tickets in person from a stranger in case the tickets
may be counterfeit.
·         Do not ever wire funds for payment.
·         Deal only with brokers that provide clear details concerning the terms of the transaction.  For instance, you should know up-front the amount of the surcharge for each purchase; whether the tickets are guaranteed; how they will be sent to you and the timeframe for delivery; and the broker’s refund, rescheduling and cancellation policies. 
·         Check if the ticket broker is a member of the National Association of Ticket Brokers (NATB) and the Better Business Bureau.
·         Visit several Web sites to compare prices and ticket availability for the event you’re interested in attending. 
·         Do not buy tickets from Internet sites that are not secure or lack a privacy policy; fail to disclose their refund, rescheduling and cancellation policies; do not provide a telephone number and fixed place of business; or insist on cash payment.
·         Verify the location of the seats on a seating chart provided by the venue to avoid purchasing non-existent seats or seats with obstructed views.
·         Pay with a credit card or another secure form of payment so you can dispute the charge with your credit card issuer or bank.

“The most common way sports fans are getting scammed online is by either paying for counterfeit tickets or tickets that never arrive,” added Bernas. “Even if the tickets do surface, they are sometimes not for the seats the seller advertised – which can mean being stuck with seats that aren’t next to each other, up in the nosebleed section, or with an obstructed view.” 

For more information on finding ticket brokers you can trust, visit www.bbb.org

Commission To Meet On Combating Human Trafficking And Forced Labor

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will hold a public meeting on Wednesday, January 19, at 9:30 a.m. (Eastern Time), at agency headquarters, 131 M Street, N.E. In accordance with the Sunshine Act, the meeting is open for public observation of the Commission’s deliberations.

The Commission will hear from invited panelists on government-wide efforts to combat human trafficking and forced labor, especially in agricultural industries. The meeting agenda includes:

Panel 1: Overview and Government-wide Efforts to Combat Human Trafficking

·        Ambassador Luis CdeBaca, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, U.S. Department of State

            Panel 2: Labor Trafficking and Exploitation

·        Hilary Axam, Acting Director, U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Criminal Section, Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit
·        Anna Park, EEOC Regional Attorney
·        Sathaporn Pornsrisirisak, Charging Party from EEOC v. Trans Bay
·        Panida Rzonca, Program Associate, Thai Community Development Center L.A.
·        Ana Vallejo, Supervising Attorney, Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center

Panel 3: Strategies and Tips from Non-Governmental Organizations for Cases Involving Trafficking
·        Daniel Werner, Deputy Legal Director, Immigrant Justice Project, Southern Poverty Law Center
·        Florrie Burke, co-Chair of Freedom Network USA

A brief question-and-answer session with EEOC Commissioners will follow each panel discussion.

Seating is limited and it is suggested that visitors arrive 30 minutes before the meeting in order to be processed through security and escorted to the meeting room.  

The Commission agenda is subject to revision. Additional information about the hearing, when available, will be posted at http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/meetings/index.cfm.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.   Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.

Job Opportunity: Content Producer

The International Museum of Women has an exciting job opportunity! 
IMOW is seeking an innovative and experienced media professional to serve as Producer for its next major online exhibition on Global Motherhood/Maternal Health. The Producer will lead the development and implementation of the media-rich online exhibition, including content development and multimedia production. The ideal candidate will have demonstrated experience creating popular content with viral potential and will be extremely marketing-savvy, as well as have a strong interest in women's human rights.
For the full job description and application instructions, click here
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Win A Custom Bag’ Competition

Lotuff & Clegg Leatherworks had their company's 1 year anniversary.  They are celebrating by running a contest:    2011 ‘Win A Custom Bag’ Competition

Anyone can enter, just become a fan on our facebook page and tell us a story about your most memorable experience with your favorite leather bag (on our facebook page wall) and you could win!
The contest will run from January 4th to February 4th and the winner will be announced in the days following.

A Step-by- Step Guide to Take Charge of Your Own Heart Health

Woman's Day, on newsstands today, unveils that the most important information for women to know is that simple changes can make a huge difference in the long run.  Experts, and recent studies conducted by the American Heart Association and Diet Coke, offer staggering statistics on heart disease today and simple advice about what to look out for and what to change.

According to a recent study "more than half of all sudden cardiac deaths could have been prevented by staying at a healthy weight, eating well, exercising, and not smoking." Making small changes now, whether in your 20's, 30's, or middle age, can drastically reduce the risks.

Woman's Day outlines the major risk factors that each woman can control on their own:
·       NOT SMOKING - Smokers are 2-4 times more likely of getting heart disease
·       BLOOD PRESSURE/ CHOLESTEROL - Blood pressure should be            less than 130/80 while total cholesterol should be under 200
·       WEIGHT- A BMI of 30 or higher drastically increases the chances for heart disease
·       NOT EXERCISING - This can double your risk; experts suggest at least 30 minutes most days of the week
·       TYPE 2 DIABETES - Making sure this disease is under control is a necessity
·       STRESS - Although the jury is still out on stress, it appears to heighten the risks

In a survey taken by the American Heart Association, women said that the biggest obstacle standing in their way of stepping up to the challenge of making these changes were family obligations and caring for others and most underestimated their personal risk.

28% also added that they were too stressed to do what they needed to do.  Dr. Christie Ballantyne adds, "Ironically, some of the things that help your heart, like exercise, also reduce stress."

Experts suggest knowing your family history as well as your most updated medical information such as your BMI, blood pressure, LDL, HDL, and total cholesterol so you can make the changes needed.

Additionally,  add in very basic cooking substitutes including boiling or baking instead of frying, use leaner proteins like lean beef or chicken, make your own bread crumbs, practice portion control, and stock up on staples so you are prepared and avoid unhealthy choices.
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Millenniums of Manhattan Winter Package Specials

New York City’s Premier Hotel Brand Offers Specialized Packages all Winter Long

This winter, Millenniums of Manhattan is rolling out the red carpet for guests, offering an array of packages sure to delight any traveler, whatever their needs may be!

Each Millenniums of Manhattan location, Millennium Broadway Hotel and Millennium UN Plaza Hotel, is offering special New York City centric packages featuring some of Manhattan’s most beloved attractions, designed to give visitors the best of The Big Apple.

Here is a sample of the specials and packages being offered by Millenniums of Manhattan this winter:

Be the toast of Broadway at the Millennium Broadway Hotel in New York City, located in the heart of Times Square with a calming, upscale ambiance and access to Broadway theaters, Fifth Avenue shopping, midtown Manhattan business and fine dining.

Stay and Play                                                                                                   
Bring your family to New York City and stay at Millennium Broadway in the heart of Times Square.

This package includes:
·        Accommodations in a standard guest room
·        4 complimentary discounted coupons (50% off regular price) for Gray Line’s Walking/Audio Tour
·        4 complimentary discounted coupons ($6 off adults; $4 off children) to Madame Tussauds Wax Museum.
Terms & Conditions
Based on availability. Offer is non-transferable. Promo code for booking: STAYPLAY

Millennium Broadway is celebrating 20 years in Times Square in 2010. Help kick off our special date with our New York City hotel's Celebration Package!

This package includes:
  • Overnight accommodations
  • Full American Breakfast for two in our Manhattan hotel's Restaurant Charlotte
  • Free in-room movie
  • Popcorn, soda, candy delivered to room
  • 2 Millennium Broadway Celebration cupcakes delivered to your hotel room
Terms & Conditions
Based on availability. Package is non-transferable. Promo code for booking: BIRTHDAY

Enjoy our Broadway hotel's perfect location, Times Square views plus valet parking to make your trip to New York City easy and stress free.

This package comes with:
Terms & Conditions
Based on availability. Package is non-transferable. Valet Parking only; 24-Hour Parking. No “in and out” services. Promo code for booking: BPPARKING

Offering the best views in the world's greatest city, New York City, the Millennium UN Plaza welcomes business travelers, foreign dignitaries and sightseers from around the world to experience the hotel’s signature ambiance and prime location on midtown Manhattan’s trendy East Side.

Summer in Winter                                                                                 
Featuring the only indoor tennis court in any hotel in the city, guests to the Millennium UN can warm up with a private court time on the hotel’s 38th floor, and afterwards, enjoy panoramic city views from the heated pool on the 27th floor.

Guests who book the Summer in the Winter Package receive:
  • One night stay in a Superior Room
  • Private court time for one hour
  • Access to heated indoor pool and fitness center on the 27th floor
  • Two complimentary drink tickets at the hotel’s Ambassador Grill
The Summer in the Winter Package is available from November 1st to March 31st, priced from $249. Private lessons with a tennis pro are also available for an additional cost.
Terms & Conditions
Based on availability. Offer is non-transferable. Promo code for booking: SUMMERW

Millennium Romance                                                                                       
Treat your special someone to a romantic getaway in New York City. Let Millennium make it easy for you with this Manhattan hotel deal. Our Millennium Romance Package will pamper you with:
  • Early check-in available upon request
  • In-room sparkling wine and chocolate covered strawberries upon arrival
  • Full American Buffet Breakfast for two in our restaurant The Ambassador Grill
  • Access to fitness center and indoor swimming pool
  • Late check-out available upon request
Terms & Conditions
Package is based on availability. Blackout dates might apply. Offer is non-transferable.
Promo code for booking: ROMANCE

Please visit www.millenniumhotels.com for further information.

An Ode to the Spelling Chequer by Janet E. Byford

Prays the Lord for the spelling chequer
That came with our pea sea!
Mecca mistake and it puts you rite
Its so easy to ewes, you sea.

I never used to no, was it e before eye?
(Four sometimes its eye before e.)
But now I’ve discovered the quay to success
It’s as simple as won, too, free!

Sew watt if you lose a letter or two,
The whirled won’t come two an end!
Can’t you sea? It’s as plane as the knows on yore face
S. Chequer’s my very best friend

I’ve always had trubble with letters that double
“Is it one or to S’s?” I’d wine
But now, as I’ve tolled you this chequer is grate
And its hi thyme you got won, like mine.

Posted via email from Tips, Thoughts and Ideas related to Media

Check Before You Post

You subscribe to newsletters.  Every few months, there may be a cool article or post that you would like to share with your audience or customers.  However, as a courtesy or professional standard procedure, you should always contact the source of the newsletter and seek permission to repost or republish the article.

This shows the source that someone is reading and appreciating their work.  From my own experiences, majority of the sources I have contacted have encouraged me to publish some of their work that I wanted to share with my readers.  So far, one has told me not to repost their article on my blogs, but they replied in a professional and friendly manner.  I respect that.  What would have happened if I reposted the article without their permission?  It would have probably hurt our professional relationships.

So, my dear readers always be clear in your communication. 

Posted via email from Tips, Thoughts and Ideas related to Media

Chance to Win a Complete Makeover and Medifast Ad Campaign

Although 2011 has only just started, the reality of being on a diet is probably starting to sink in. This year, Medifast is giving yet another reason to stick with that New Year’s weight loss resolution with their Happy Afters contest. Medifast is encouraging its users to send a digital version of their ‘before & after’ photographs before March 31st, 2011 for a chance to become the next Medifast success story star! 10 lucky winners will be flown to Medifast’s headquarters in Baltimore where they will receive:

·         Airfare, lodging, and transportation
·         A professional makeover
·         A shopping session with a personal stylist
·         A professional photo and video shoot
·         A chance to appear in Medifast’s national television, print and online advertising and more!

Interested applicants can read the official Happy Afters contest rules and enter on www.Medifast1.com or Medifast’s Facebook page www.Facebook.com/Medifast.

So stick with that 2011 resolution and good luck!

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Top 10 Scams of 2010

Scammers in 2010 continued to prey on people's difficult economic conditions and concerns about the general economy as well as follow the financial misfortunes of individuals, according to the Better Business Bureau's (BBB) summary of dishonest business dealings for the past year.

This listing is based on the number of times people requested information and inquiries through personal phone calls or the BBB website, as well as complaints.  These instances of service by the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois, including inquiries and complaints about specific businesses.

"Scammers continue to follow the money trail and target the desperate emotions of people," said Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. "This year the Top 3 scams were again related to personal finances.”
The list of the Top 10 most common scams in 2010 include:

1.      Work-At-Home and Fraudulent Employment Opportunities
2.      Credit Repair and Debt Negotiations/Settlement Services
3.      Advance Fee Lenders
4.      Mortgage Foreclosure Rescue/Loan Modification Scams
5.      Timeshare Resellers
6.      Mystery/Secret Shoppers
7.      Grant & Government Job Finding Entities
8.      Not so “Free” Trials
9.      Phishing, Smishing, and Vishing
10.  Check Scams

"We believe the reason we hear more about these Top 3 scams is because people lose money and then complain, rather than being tempted by deals and checking them out before sending money," explained Bernas. "This usually ends badly for people, who never get their money back."

Explanations of these scams are:

1. Work-at-Home and Fraudulent Employment Opportunities - These scams offer big dollars for little work or effort. However, when an interested consumer “applies,” they almost always ask for money up-front to pay for materials, training kits, or investment money. After sending payment, most consumers either have their checks deposited and never hear anything again, or obtain something that is completely useless. Internet employment opportunities looking for “shipping”, “billing managers” or “payment processors” frequently turn out to be fraudulent listings that are looking for victims to commit money laundering by accepting and forwarding payments.

2. Credit Repair and Debt Negotiation/Settlement Services - Due to the continuing economic situation, many consumers seek credit repair or debt negotiation/settlement companies. However, everything a credit repair clinic can do for you legally, you can do for yourself at little or no cost. Here are the important facts:
  • These services can not ask for money in advance, automatically get legitimate negative reports off your credit report or guarantee to cut your debt by a specific percentage.
  • Be extremely cautious about a service that recommends you not pay creditors so it can negotiate.  This could negatively affect your credit report.

3. Advance Fee Lenders - The victims are often contacted by phone or e-mail or respond to fake newspaper or online ads. They are offered quick and immediate loans despite past credit history and with little or no background check. The one requirement is the payment of advance fees. It is illegal for any business to request any fees to be paid up front prior to disbursing a loan. After the victim wires the money, he never sees his loan funds or advance fee payment again.

4. Mortgage Foreclosure Rescue/Loan Modification Scams – Because foreclosure information is publicly available, many scammer contact desperate homeowners and promise to save their homes while loan modification companies promise to renegotiate your loan and reduce your payments. It is unlawful for foreclosure consultants to collect money before (1) they give you a written contract describing the services they promise to provide and (2) they actually perform all the services described in the contract.

5. Timeshare Resellers – Consumers are generally contacted by phone or mail and told that their timeshare is in a “hot” market or they have a buyer willing to purchase their timeshare, but first they need to pay a hefty fee in advance or enter into contracts that same day. In a standard real estate transaction, fees are paid from the proceeds of the sale. In a timeshare scam, victims do not end up selling their timeshare and they generally do not hear from the company again.

6. Mystery/Secret Shoppers - Websites or newspaper ads often asks that you “register” and pay a fee in order to receive information about a certification program, a directory of mystery shopping companies, or baseless guarantees of obtaining mystery shopping positions. Most don’t exist, have already expired, or have nothing to do with legitimate secret shopping offers.

7. Grant & Government Job Finding Entities - Offers of “free” government grants or assistance with research, grant applications, or government employment should all be regarded with caution. The majority of these entities charge for services, applications, or information that can be easily obtained for free by doing online searches or visiting school financial aid offices.

8. Not so “Free” Trials – Online offers often do not disclose the billing terms and conditions or do not have such details prominently displayed online. Consumers often end up being repeatedly billed for products and services they didn’t want.

9. Phishing, Smishing, and Vishing – “Phishing” is a crime that uses spam e-mails to deceive consumers into disclosing their personal or financial information.

”Smishing” is the practice of sending a phishing message to steal credit card or identity information via cell phone text messaging.

The latest form of identity theft is “vishing” which uses Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to gain access to private and personal financial information. Recipients hear automated recordings that alert them to fraudulent or suspicious activity on their credit card or bank accounts which instructs them to call and input their personal information.

10. Check Scams – Consumers receive a check in the mail, allegedly for winning a sweepstake, lottery or promotion. They are urged to deposit the check, and then write another from their own account to cover alleged taxes or fees. The check that was deposited turns out to be worthless while the check sent by the consumer is good, and that money ends up being unrecoverable.

“Remember, before giving any company credit or debit card information, the BBB recommends reviewing the website fully to avoid potential billing nightmares,” said Bernas. “These scams and others are preventable with the right resources.”  

For more information on these top 10 scams, visit www.bbb.org .
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