BBB Tips: How consumers can combat scams
Rockford, IL – March 3, 2022 – Consumers lost more than $5.8 billion to fraud in 2021, a 70 percent increase from 2020, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) fraud reports of more than 2.8 million consumers. The question is what consumers can do to protect themselves. Answers can be found during National Consumer Protection Week March 9 – 16.
The Better Business Bureaus is partnering with the FTC plus 113 local, state, and federal government agencies and nonprofit organizations for National Consumer Protection Week to raise awareness of scams and help consumers reduce their risk of fraud.
“Scammers are getting more creative and diligent in their attempts to steal people’s money,” says Dennis Horton, director of the Rockford Regional Office of the Better Business Bureau. “A lot of their success is traced to two things. Con artists expand their reach utilizing the latest technology and they capitalize on the latest news to appeal to your emotions.”
As part of National Consumer Protection Week, BBB on March 7, 2022, will reveal its Annual Scamtracker Risk Report. The report is an in-depth look at the riskiest scams based on how often people see scam types, how likely they are to fall victim, and how much money they lose. The comprehensive report also breaks down how scams impact different age groups.
“It is vital to keep on the lookout for scams,” notes Horton. “Scammers want to rob you of your identity and sense of security. That takes a huge emotional toll.”
BBB’s consumer protection tips:
- Please don’t “overshare” on social media. Con artists collect your personal information from such sources and use it to make you think they know you.
- Be alert for impostor scams. Con artists claiming to be from the government, a utility or a charity could contact you by phone, email or even a knock on your door.
- When someone you have not met asks you to send them money, especially by unconventional payment methods, such as wire transfer, prepaid debit card or gift card, don’t do it.
- Before you do business with a company, look for the BBB Seal. Find businesses you can trust at BBB.org.
- Check your credit once a year to see if there’s been a dramatic change, indicating identity theft.
- Please don’t trust the legitimacy of something by its looks. Emails and websites are easy to fake with copied logos and graphics.
- Don’t trust Caller ID. It can be manipulated to read any way the scammer wants.
- Never click on links or attachments in unsolicited emails or texts. That’s how crooks put malware on your devices.
- Buy online only from legitimate sources that have a secure website address with the “s” in “https.” Look for the lock icon in the address bar as well.
- Anyone pressuring you to act quickly could be a scammer who doesn’t want you to have time to consider the “offer” seriously.
- Get details in writing and read them thoroughly.
- Treat your personal identification information like gold. Do not give it away to anyone who contacts you out of the blue. Closely guard your banking, Social Security, medical, and insurance account numbers.
- Keep your travel plans to yourself and only share them after the fact.
- Shred junk mail, old documents, bills, and medical paperwork.
- Get Push Notifications – alerts from your bank on your mobile device any time your account is accessed.
- Monitor your accounts and check out any unknown transaction, even for tiny amounts (crooks start with small amounts to see if you pay attention).
- Use strong passwords and keep software and virus protections updated constantly.
Wednesday, March 9th at 3:00 p.m., the Better Business Bureau (BBB) will present a webinar titled Avoid the Top Business and Consumer Scams Occurring in Northern Illinois. Learn more and register at Chicago.gov/BusinessEducation.
BBB urges anyone encountering a scam, whether they lose money or not, to report it to the BBB Scamtracker. Visit BBB.org to keep up on scams or follow us @ChicagoBBB on social media.