In 2015, BBB launched Scam Tracker, an online interactive tool through which consumers can report and find out about scams in their area. Visit bbb.org/scamtracker/us to utilize the site. Scam Tracker currently lists over 91,500 scams being reported nationally.
Kansans continue to be victimized by scammers’ trickery, just like the rest of the nation. As 2017 draws to a close, it seems an opportune time to look over the top reported scams of the past year. Here are the top 5 scams making the rounds in The Sunflower State, according to Scam Tracker, showing what percentage of the total reports each makes up:
1. Phishing (42.67%)
2. Online purchases (8.32%)
3. Tax collection (6.56%)
4. Tech support (6.13%)
5. Sweepstakes/lottery (5.91%)
By far the most reported scam is obviously phishing, an attempt to get at consumers’ personal information in order to steal identities and usually to make unauthorized online purchases. Many complaints have mentioned the “can you hear me scam.” A consumer answers a phone call and is met with a voice saying, “Can you hear me alright?” If you say, “Yes,” your “yes” is recorded and crooks use it as if you had authorized a purchase from them.
Others have reported receiving calls wanting to “verify” personal information, really just an attempt to acquire it. You should never respond to such calls. Hang up immediately and report the call to Scam Tracker. You should file a complaint with the FTC as well, at ftc.gov. Be equally suspicious of unsolicited emails and texts that ask you to click on a link.
Online purchase scams
Among the reported scams in this category are ones in which merchandise is ordered but is never received. In some cases no confirmation number or email was ever sent to the customer, yet their credit cards were charged for the purchase.
Consumers should be cautious when buying online from other than well-known retailers. Craigslist and eBay are favorite haunts of scammers, either selling or “buying.” Be especially careful when you are selling and the buyer sends overpayment for the merchandise. They will then request you send them back the overpaid amount, usually with a wire transfer. This is a sure sign of a scam.
Tax collection scams
A continuing favorite scam is fake tax collection calls. Claiming to be from the IRS, callers will threaten you with arrest if you do not send them money. It’s vital that you remember that the IRS contacts through written letter form, not through phone calls. The callers may sound legitimate, citing fake names, badge numbers and even using fake background noise to make the call seem real.
Tech support scams
Callers falsely claim to be from well-known tech companies saying there is a problem with your device. Often the caller will want you to give them access to your computer. They’ll claim to be able to fix the “virus” for a fee, of course. They may even install malware on your computer in the process. These calls are always fake and you should hang up immediately then report the scam attempts. Legitimate companies do not call you to notify you of system problems.
and lottery scams
This old scam continues to work on many victims. A caller or emailer notifies that you’ve won a prize. But first they say you must pay “taxes,” or “shipping costs,” or some other “fee.” Don’t do it. You should never pay upfront money to receive a prize. It is always a scam.
Keep your New Year scam-free by staying alert to the many schemes of scammers. If you have questions or concerns, contact your Better Business Bureau at 800-856-2417, or visit their website at bbbinc.org.