New BBB report details riskiest scams of 2021

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Published: Mar. 7, 2022 at 10:49 AM CST|Updated: Mar. 7, 2022 at 7:11 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The Better Business Bureau is highlighting the riskiest scams of 2021 in a new report released Monday.

The Southwest WI Regional Director for the BBB, Tiffany Bernhardt Schultz, explained how riskiness is calculated. “The BBB scam risk index formula is exposure X susceptibility (the likelihood of loss) X the monetary loss. So, these three factors help us understand the impact of the scam and who’s most vulnerable.”

Online purchases remained the #1 riskiest scam, making up 37.4% of the 46,000+ scams reported to the BBB last year. The report indicates that 3 out of 4 victims reported losing money to online scams.

“The average loss on that is $101 which is less than our average $169 median loss of overall scams. So, consumers are losing less in online purchase scams, but they’re still losing money,” Bernhardt Schultz said.

This type of scam is where fraudsters offer attractive deals online to lure in consumers, but once a purchase is made the product never shows up or it’s a counterfeit.

“Take a look in the web address bar. Does the address start with an https instead of http? The ‘s’ is always going to stand for a secure site. Look at the site. Are there grammatical errors, spelling errors? If so, the red flags may want to go up,” advised Bernhardt Schultz.

Bernhardt Schultz also said to look for full contact information on the website, including an address, phone number and a privacy policy. “Call the phone number. Does a real person answer the phone, or does it just ring and ring and ring? Google the address. Does it go to a real place of business? And finally with the privacy policy, what are they doing with your personal information?”

BBB officials say almost 60% of consumers reported shopping online more often last year, as the pandemic continued.

Cryptocurrency scams jumped to the #2 spot for riskiest scams, up from #7 in 2020. While these scams only made up 1.9% of all scams reported to the BBB last year, the median dollar loss of $1,200 from this type of scam was much higher than other kinds of scams.

A cryptocurrency scam usually involves a victim being convinced to trade their digital assets to someone who has no intention of creating a company or the exchanges end up being fraudulent.

“Scammers follow the news and they follow consumer behavior patterns. So, they know that people are online more. They reach out to them on social media, maybe they instant message them or Facebook message them, send them an email that’s unsolicited and they gather their attention,” explained Bernhardt Schultz.

Other scams that fell into the BBB’s top 5 for riskiest scams were employment, door-to-door home improvement and investments scams.

Bernhardt Schultz also added that Amazon was the most impersonated organization in 2021, followed by the Social Security Administration and Publisher’s Clearing House.

If you notice a scam or fall victim to one, the BBB asks that you report it on its website.

“It’s extremely important if you are approached with a scam, regardless or not if you lost money, to go ahead and report that to us, because your report helps to warn others of the scams taking place in the marketplace,” said Bernhardt Schultz.

There is also a Scam Tracker tool to see what scams are happening in your neighborhood and across the country.

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