BBB explains biggest scams of 2017
By Kelly Trevino
Dec. 31, 2017 at 8:57 p.m.
Updated Jan. 1, 2018 at 1 a.m.
A new year may be starting, but old scams have still found ways to make an impact on consumers.
The Better Business Bureau has compiled the biggest scams reported in its 105-county service area in the past year. Overall, there were more than 1,300 reports filed on BBB Scam Tracker in 2017, costing victims more than $1.1 million.
1. Phishing scam. Phishing is an attempt to acquire personal information, such as usernames, passwords and credit card numbers, by claiming to be a trustworthy person or business. You may receive an email telling you that you've won a contest or that a business needs to verify your personal information. However, links in the email can take you to a site that downloads malware onto your computer to search for your sensitive data.
BBB advises you to never open emails or click on links from sources you don't know. Keep in mind that legitimate businesses won't ask you to confirm your personal information through email.
2. Online purchase scam. This scam occurs when consumers pay for items they never receive. While many shopping websites are legitimate, there are scammers that set up fraudulent sites in order to steal personal or financial information or your money. Do your research and make sure you're shopping on a legitimate, secure site or from a reputable seller.
3. Employment scam. Scammers may say they have a job opening or can guarantee job placement if you first pay a fee to cover the cost it takes to place you in a job. However, after you pay, the job doesn't materialize. If a potential employer asks you to pay the company to cover the costs of testing, training or background checks, consider it a red flag.
4. IRS/tax scam. This was the top scam in 2016, but reports have dropped significantly since a police raid on call centers in India late last year. However, it still manages to land near the top of the list. In this scheme, an impostor claiming to be with the IRS will call you and tell you that you owe money to the government and if you don't pay now, you will be arrested. BBB advises you to hang up - the IRS and other government agencies won't call you to collect money or ask you to make a payment via a prepaid card or wire transfer.
5. Debt collections scam. You receive a phone call from someone claiming you have an unpaid debt. You are threatened with garnishments, lawsuits and even jail time if you don't pay right now. The scammer will often use Caller ID spoofing and pretend to be a government agency or law enforcement in order to further invoke fear and make you send money.
Kelly Trevino is the regional director for the Corpus Christi office of Better Business Bureau serving Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin. You can reach her at 361-945-7352 or firstname.lastname@example.org.