BBB Scam Alert: Online purchase, website scams top 2022 report for Nebraskans
HASTINGS, Neb. (Press Release) - For the third consecutive year, online purchase scams were the most reported scam type to the Better Business Bureau Serving Nebraska, South Dakota, Kansas Plains & Southwest Iowa. Online purchase scams were considered the riskiest scam type for all consumers nationwide, according to the 2021 BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report, which found that nearly three-fourths of reports involving the scam type involved a monetary loss.
In Nebraska, online purchase scams accounted for 42% of all scam reports in 2022, up from 39% a year ago. Employment scams (8%) and phishing scams (7%) rounded out the top three.
Third-party payment methods were the most frequent mode of payment requested by scammers targeting Nebraskans (39%), followed credit cards (29%) and bank account debits (19%).
Nearly one-fifth of scams reports filed by Nebraskans indicated the scam occurred on a website, according to BBB Scam Tracker, followed by phone (17%), social media (16%) and email (15%).
In total, hundreds of reports involving more than $100,000 in monetary losses were reported to BBB Scam Tracker in 2022. These totals are conservative since the majority of scams go unreported.
There are thousands of new scams every year. Each has its own wrinkles to consider. However, the BBB provides these 10 tips which can prevent most scams as the calendar moves to 2023.
1. Never send money via gift card or wire transfer to someone you have never met face-to-face. If they ask you to use a wire transfer, a prepaid debit card, or a gift card; those cannot be traced and are as good as cash. Chances are, you won’t see your money again. See the Federal Trade Commission’s video on how scammers try to convince you to pay. If someone is trying to convince you to pay this way, stop, get off the phone or the computer, and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
2. Avoid clicking on links or opening attachments in unsolicited emails. Links, if clicked, will download malware onto your computer, smartphone, tablet, or whatever electronic device you’re using at the time allowing cyber thieves to steal your identity. Be cautious even with an email that looks familiar; it could be fake. Instead, delete it if looks unfamiliar and block the sender.
3. Don’t believe everything you see. Scammers are great at mimicking official seals, fonts, and other details. Just because a website or email looks official does not mean that it is. Caller ID is commonly faked.
4. Double check your online purchase is secure before checking out. Look for the “HTTPS” in the URL (the extra s is for “secure”) and a small lock icon on the address bar. Better yet, before shopping on the website, make certain you are on the site you intended to visit. Check out the company first at BBB.org. Read reviews about the quality of the merchandise, and make sure you are not buying cheap and/or counterfeit goods. Look for a brick-and-mortar address listing on the website itself and a working phone number. Take an extra step and call the number if it is a business you are not familiar with.
5. Use extreme caution when dealing with anyone you’ve met online. Scammers use dating websites, Craigslist, social media, and many other sites to reach potential targets. They can quickly feel like a friend or even a romantic partner, but that is part of the con for you to trust them.
6. Never share personally identifiable information with someone who has contacted you unsolicited, whether it’s over the phone, by email, on social media, or even at your front door. This includes banking and credit card information, your birthdate, and Social Security/Social Insurance numbers.
7. Resist the pressure to act immediately. Shady actors typically try to make you think something is scarce or a limited-time offer. They want to push victims to make a decision right now before even thinking through it, asking family members, friends, or financial advisors. Sometimes, they’ll advise against contacting anyone and just trusting them. While high-pressure sales tactics are also used by some legitimate businesses, it typically isn’t a good idea to make an important decision quickly.
8. Use secure and traceable transactions. Do not pay by wire transfer, prepaid money card, gift card, or another non-traditional payment method (see number one above). Say no to cash-only deals, high-pressure sales tactics, high upfront payments, overpayments, and handshake deals without a contract. Read all of the small print on the contract and make sure to understand what the terms are.
9. Whenever possible, work with local businesses. Ask that they have proper identification, licensing, and insurance, especially contractors who will be coming into your home or anyone dealing with your money or sensitive information. Review Business Profiles at BBB.org to see what other people have experienced. Research BBB Accredited home improvement businesses and contractors before making a final decision.
10. Be cautious about what you share on social media. Consider only connecting with people you already know. Check the privacy settings on all social media and online accounts. Imposters often get information about their targets from their online interactions and can make themselves sound like a friend or a family member because they know so much about you. Then, update and change passwords to passphrases on a regular basis on all online accounts. P
For more highlights from the 2021 BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report, visit BBBMarketplaceTrust.org/RiskReport. Go to BBB.org/ScamTracker to report a scam, learn more about other risky scams on BBB.org/ScamTips and visit our news feed.
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