Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern North Carolina (BBB) has released its list of top scams reported during 2022. These scams were reported to BBB Scam Tracker in our service area throughout last year:
1. Online Purchasing Scams
Online purchasing scams were by far the most common scam in our area in 2022.These cons often involve purchases and sales on classifieds websites and other direct seller-to-buyer sites. Scammers may pretend to purchase an item only to send you a bogus check and ask you to refund the “accidental” overpayment. In other cases, the scammer will pretend to be a legitimate online seller but never deliver the goods.
487 people fell victim to an online purchasing scam last year. These include scams involving pet adoption, online shopping and social media advertising.
2. Employment Scams
These scammers advertise jobs on the web and social media, or reach out to those who have posted resumes on job boards. They also may involve reshipping goods purchased with stolen credit cards. Other common scams promise jobs but provide victims with counterfeit checks, asking them to send money to a supposed third party for equipment to perform the job.
173 instances of these scams were reported on Scam Tracker.
3. Phishing Scams
169 individuals in our service area fell victim to phishing scams in 2022. Always beware of any unsolicited or unexpected communications asking for personal information or telling you to download an attachment. These scams are “phishing” for your Social Security number, passwords, credit card information, or other personal details for use in identity theft. Don’t fall for the bait! Learn more about phishing scams in this BBB tip.
4. Sweepstakes, Lottery and Prize Scams
This scheme involves scammers telling people they have won a large amount of money in a lottery or sweepstakes, sometimes by misusing the established name of Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes. Victims send money, purportedly for taxes or other costs that must be paid before receiving a prize.
There were almost 70 instances of this scam last year.
5. Counterfeit Product Scams
It’s hard to resist a great bargain, especially on luxury goods and other high-priced items, but when it comes to counterfeit merchandise, consumers get scammed in a myriad of ways. Counterfeit products are rarely of the same quality as the original. They steal from designers and innovators who create original work, take business away from honest retailers, and reduce tax revenue. In some cases, counterfeit goods finance illegal activities and even exploit child labor.
Almost 50 individuals were scammed by a counterfeit product seller in 2022.
6. Tech Support Scams
A tech support rep calls and offers to fix a computer bug you haven’t even noticed, or a pop-up warning appears on the screen, instructing you to dial a number for help. In this con, scammers pose as tech support employees of well-known computer companies and hassle victims into paying for their “support.”
More than 40 people reported a tech support scam.
7. Advance Fee Loan Scams
No matter how much you need a loan, don’t overlook this big red flag. Companies that allegedly “guarantee” loans without seeing your credit history are likely scams. These scammers charge upfront fees to lock in a loan. But once you hand over the payment, the “lender” vanishes along with your promised money.
Advanced fee loans are illegal in Canada. In Canada and the United States, it is illegal for companies doing business by phone to promise a loan and require payment before they deliver.
37 people reported being a victim of an advance fee loan scam.
8. Debt Collection Scams
Debt collection scams can be one of the most frightening and persistent scam types. Victims often report that scammers harass them for weeks or even months, both at home and at work, trying to get them to pay a debt they don’t even owe. BBB receives numerous reports con artists change tactics just to get the information necessary to collect information or cash.
30 individuals were victimized by debt collection scams last year.
9. Home Improvement Scams
Use caution when hiring a home improvement contractor, especially following a major storm, flood, or other weather event when many homeowners are trying to repair their homes. However, contractor scams can happen any time, so be wary of high-pressure sales tactics, up front fees, and fly-by-night businesses. Con artists will take homeowners’ money and deliver (or not deliver) less than quality work.
27 people reported being scammed by home improvement con artists in 2022.
10. Cryptocurrency Scams
Cryptocurrency has some key traits that make it attractive to scammers: It is relatively unregulated and difficult to recoup once lost; it is wildly popular, fueled in part by celebrity endorsements; and it is not well understood by the general public. The study states that the cryptocurrency market offers new opportunities for tried-and-true investment frauds such as Ponzi schemes and fraudulent ICOs (initial coin offerings), particularly given the development of new currencies and the lack of protections that government regulation has made available to more traditional investors.
26 instances of Cryptocurrency scams were reported to Scam Tracker last year.
For more information, visit BBB.org.