BBB Top 10 Scams of 2015

Better Business Bureau (BBB) launched BBB Scam Tracker earlier this year and in the first 10,000 scam reports processed by BBB, a whopping 24% were about impostors pretending to be either the Internal Revenue Service or the Canadian Revenue Agency. About 85% of those reporting scams to BBB recognized them as frauds before any money was stolen, but the Top Ten Scams still account for more than $1 million dollars lost.


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“Scammers are all basically impostors,” notes Mary E. Power, president and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. “Three of the top four scams reported to us are those that scare people with threats of arrest, law suits or other frightening actions. Scammers are pretending to be government agents, lawyers, debt collectors, police officers. They engage directly with you, so your best bet to avoid be-ing scammed is to stop engaging. Hang up the phone, delete the email, shut the door.”

Why Scams Work:

There is a science to scams, and it may surprise you to know that scammers use many of the same techniques as legitimate sales professionals. The difference, of course, is that their “product” is illegal and could cost you a fortune. Here are the major techniques they use to draw you in:

Establishing a connection: The scammer builds rapport and a relationship with you. This is usually used face-to-face, as in home improvement scams and many investment scams, but also online romance scams.

Source credibility: Scammer use techniques to make themselves look legitimate, such as fake websites, social media posts, or hacked emails that come from a friend’s account. Most email phishing scams spoof real companies, and many scammers pretend to be a trusted business or government agency in order to add credibility.

Playing on emotions: Scammers rely on emotion to get you to make a quick decision before you have time to think about it. An emergency situation or a limited time offer is usually their methodology. They count on emotional rather than rational decision-making.

What you Can Do:

  • Don’t be pressured into making fast decisions.
  • Take time to research the organization. Check them out on bbb.org, search online, etc.
  • Never provide your personal information (address, date-of-birth, banking information, ID numbers) to people you do not know.
  • Don’t click on links from unsolicited email or text messages.
  • If you are unsure about a call or email that claims to be from your bank, utility company, etc., call the business directly using the number on your bill or credit card.
  • Never send money by wire transfer or prepaid debit card to someone you don’t know of haven’t met in person.
  • Never send money for an emergency situation unless you can verify the emergency.

For More Information:

  • For scam information, go to BBB Scam Stopper
  • Report scams by calling the Better Business Bureau

BBB of the Upstate is always here to help. Should you need assistance or if you are in doubt about what to do, pick up the phone and call the BBB Elder Fraud program hotline at (864) 240-2080. You can also email questions or concerns to info@upstatesc.bbb.org. The mission of the BBB Elder Fraud program is to assist seniors in recognizing and resist-ing fraudulent offers and possible scams. If you would like to check out a business online, visit www.bbb.org/upstatesc.

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