Infographic: The Top 10 Scams of 2010 in the U.S. and Canada

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Have you been the victim of a scam recently? If you answered yes, then unless someone has hacked into one of your accounts, you probably unknowingly handed over some of your personal data to the crook. The majority of scams, be they advance-fee loan scams or debt relief and settlement scams, require the victim to fall prey to some sort of phishing. It clearly helps, then, to be aware of what sorts of scams are being reported most often, which is why the Better Business Bureau (BBB) put together this infographic with the top 10 scams in the U.S. and Canada of 2010.

And who better than the BBB, the first organization many consumers turn to when they want to file a complaint? "It's better to ask questions first than file a complaint later, and the BBB tells us that in this infographic, an inquiry consists of 'a customer seeking out our business information,' and that generally happens before a purchase," Mashable, which first drew our attention to this infographic, points out. "The BBB handles complaints after purchases as well, which are listed separately on the table below."

Infographics are always a bit of a hodgepodge of statistics culled from a variety of sources. Here, we sort through the clutter and pull out some of our favorite facts and figures:

  • Breaking down the anatomy of a scam: 1. the hook (Click here to win a new iPad 2); 2. the frustration (Just one more step to get your FREE iPad 2); 3. the redirect (Oops, looks like you're not logged in); 4. the fool (Log in here); 5. the payoff (Oops, looks like there was a problem logging you in... but thanks for your credentials).
  • Job hunter scams target bank account and/or Social Security numbers. The pitch: We will match you up with a perfect job that's ready and waiting for you. The result: Victims must pay a fee to be considered for a job. Out of money they don't have, still no job.
  • Work from home schemes target employees tired of the same 9-5 routine. In some cases, they unknowingly work to fence stolen goods. The pitch: Fire your boss! We can teach you the secrets to making money online, assembling items at home or being a mystery shopped. The result: Instead of getting paid, you can end up losing hundreds -- if not thousands -- of dollars or in legal trouble.
  • Over-payment scams target any amount of money that is wired back. The pitch: Oops, I accidentally sent you too much money, would you please wire some back? The result: Transaction is reversed, and the victim is out the money wired back to the scammers.
  • Lottery and sweepstakes scams target payment under the guide of "covering taxes" or other bogus "fees." The pitch: You have won a large lottery or sweepstakes and just have to cover taxes before receiving your money. The result: The victim wires the money but the prize or money never arrives.
  • Not so "free" trial offers target repeated monthly billings. The pitch: Try a free offer and never be charged -- unless you want to continue the offer. The result: The free trial offers seem easy, the consumer is repeatedly billed every month and is difficult to cancel.

Check out more Infographics on the Technology Channel.

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Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

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