BBB Scam Tracker, an interactive online tool which people can use to learn about and report scams, was launched in 2015. Since being activated locally, Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota ® (BBB) has seen some clear trends emerge, trends that show that some scams – particularly the IRS and tech support scam – are more widespread than others. Using data submitted by area consumers, BBB has compiled a list of the top ten scams from last year.
“The IRS scheme, wherein callers pretend to be with the IRS and demand immediate payments, continues to haunt the marketplace,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “But the tech support scam and other fake collection schemes were also well-represented.”
In order, here are the following scams reported locally through BBB Scam Tracker:
1) Fake IRS calls – Scammers claim to be with the IRS and demand immediate payment or threaten consumers with arrest.
2) Bogus Debt Collection schemes – Attempts to collect on debts that aren’t due or have already been paid.
3) Tech Support scam – ‘Helpful’ technicians contact people over the phone or via pop-up messages, claiming there are problems with the users’ computers.
4) Credit Card ‘offers’ – Calls falsely claiming credit card interest rates can be lowered.
5) Government Grants – Consumers are contacted by individuals falsely claiming to be with the government and are told they qualify for a grant.
6) Impostor Schemes – People receive calls or emails from individuals claiming to be with Medicare, a credit card company or bank; however, these communications are fraudulent.
7) Advanced Fee Loans – Individuals go online looking for a loan and unscrupulous entities follow up claiming they qualify for a loan – if fees are paid upfront. The fees are paid and the loans never come through.
8) Work from Home offers – Consumers are confronted with bogus claims they can work from home, making great money with minimal input or effort.
9) Sweepstakes/prizes – Calls, emails or text messages claim people have won a huge cash prize or even a new car. Unfortunately, these claims prove false when lucky ‘winners’ are told they have to pay to collect their prizes.
10) Phishing – Individuals receive emails supposedly from trusted merchants or retailers claiming there was an issue with a recent transaction. This also includes emails from friends or family members which contain suspicious links; later it’s learned the individual’s email account was hacked.
“Scam Tracker was only operational the last 3-4 months of last year,” added Badgerow, “however, we feel the early results are representative of overall trends in fraudulent activity in our region.”
The mission of Better Business Bureau is to be the leader in building marketplace trust by promoting, through self-regulation, the highest standards of business ethics and conduct, and to instill confidence in responsible businesses through programs of education and action that inform, assist and protect the general public. We are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Contact BBB at bbb.org or 651-699-1111, toll-free at 1-800-646-6222.