Better Business Bureau scam tracker report highlights riskiest fraud

Staff photo / Chattanooga Better Business Bureau President Michele Mason
Staff photo / Chattanooga Better Business Bureau President Michele Mason

BBB's Scam Tracker site offers a great opportunity for you to share and review the types of fraud targeting our community and abroad. In fact, last month BBB Scam Tracker received an award from the Global Anti-Scam Alliance and ScamAdviser.com as the best scam fighting tool of the year.

When individuals and businesses share details about their experiences with attempted fraud and successful scams, it allows us to identify emerging trends, including new technologies and approaches that bring new twists to longstanding schemes. We also review data to gauge which common types of fraud are growing significantly.

According to a new report from the Better Business Bureau's Institute for Marketplace Trust, investment scams, including those involving cryptocurrency, are now the riskiest scam type. More than 80% of people targeted by this scam type reported losing money to BBB Scam Tracker. It also had the second-highest median dollar loss at $3,800.

Investment scams take many forms, including pressure to purchase, trade or store digital assets (cryptocurrency) with fraudulent exchanges. Investment and cryptocurrency scams appeared among the 10 riskiest scams in 2023. This year, we combined them because most cryptocurrency scams involved some investment opportunity.

Employment scam reports remained the second riskiest type in 2023. Reports increased 54.2% from the year before. Employment scams had a median dollar loss of $1,995, which is significantly higher than the overall median dollar loss of $100 when all scam types are combined.

Online shopping scams dropped from the riskiest scam type for the first time since 2019, landing at No. 3 on the list. This year, 41.9% of scams submitted to BBB Scam Tracker were online purchase scams, and 82.6% reported losing money.

Scams perpetrated online continued to grow, making up 68.4% of all reports. More concerning, online scams were more likely to result in a reported monetary loss than in person or via phone.

Overall reported susceptibility (the percentage of reports with a monetary loss) rose 27.8% from 2022 to 2023. Fortunately, the reported median dollar loss fell by 41.5%.

For the second year in a row, people ages 18-24 reported the highest median dollar loss of all age groups ($155).

Employment scams were the No. 1 riskiest type of fraud for people ages 18-44. Investment/cryptocurrency scams were the No. 1 riskiest type for ages 45 and older.

The percentage of people who reported engaging with a scammer via social media rose 63.8% from 2022 to 2023.

Credit cards remained the most reported payment method with a monetary loss, followed by bank account debit and online payment systems. Reports of bank account debit with a monetary loss increased by 66.4%. (BBB encourages you to only use credit cards for payments, as they offer the most protection).

According to our survey research, people between the ages of 18 and 44 named anxiety and stress as the top emotions they felt after being targeted by a scam. In contrast, people 45 and older cited anger as the number one emotion.

For more highlights and to download the 2023 BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report, you can visit BBBMarketplaceTrust.org/RiskReport.

Shred day is April 13

A proactive step toward protecting your identity is to safely shred unneeded documents and/or hard drives that contain personally identifiable information and banking information. You can do this for free at BBB's next Shred Day.

The bi-annual event will be 9 a.m.-noon in the parking lot of Coca-Cola Bottling Co., 2111 W. Shepherd Road in Chattanooga. (Location is near Exit 1A/Airport off Highway 153).

In addition to bringing paper documents and hard drives for destruction, electronics can also be brought for recycling and outdated or unneeded prescription drugs can be dropped off for safe disposal.

Please limit documents to three large trash bags per person and limit hard drives to four per person. For more information, please visit bbb.org/Chattanooga or call your BBB at 423-266-6144.

Thank you to our event partners: Resource 1 Tier 3 Data Security, Hamilton County Coalition, River City Shredding, Chattanooga Times Free Press, Cumulus Media Chattanooga, First Horizon Bank and Coca-Cola Bottling Co.

Michele Mason is president of the Better Business Bureau in Chattanooga.

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