BBB Tip: Top 5 Waco-area scams of 2022 | FCT News – Freestonecountytimesonline

In 2022, Waco-area businesses and consumers reported multiple scams to BBB, totaling over $18,000 in losses. Across Texas, BBB received an average of 250 scam reports per month totaling $1.9 million lost for the year. While the tactics of scammers often shift to take advantage of marketplace trends, online shopping, employment and phishing scams are the most common types of scams reported to BBB from Texas residents, accounting for 49% of all scams submitted to the organization for the year.

To help Waco-area residents avoid scams in 2023, BBB analyzed scam reports submitted by consumers with local zip codes to determine the top five prevailing scams in 2022 and provides a few tips on how to avoid them moving into the new year.

 

Online Purchase

Share of reports: 31%

Amount lost: $3,905

Online purchase scams in the Waco-area vary across a wide range of products, with some consumers losing hundreds of dollars on a single interaction. Some residents lost $600 or more when attempting to purchase a pet online. In most cases, buyers are directed to send payment through an online payment system such as Zelle or PayPal. Other items residents attempted to purchase include ammunition, carpentry tools and clothes.

To avoid online purchase scams, BBB recommends:

  • Avoid too-good-to-be-true deals.
  • Use credit cards for online transactions.
  • Look up reviews on other websites.
  • Check and verify there are multiple methods of contact such as a working telephone number and a real physical address.

Employment

Share of reports: 12%

Amount lost: $0

Employment scams often impersonate well-known and reputable businesses when contacting their victims. While these scams do not often result in a loss of money, the sensitive information provided to a potential employer places the applicant at an increased risk of experiencing identity theft. Scammers often entice applicants for the position by offering high wages, flexible hours and remote working opportunities. They often claim they will pay for the applicant to purchase materials to set up their home office or other work-related expenses. In the Waco area, most reports revolve around data entry, package reshipment or clerical positions.

To avoid employment scams, BBB recommends:

  • Beware of unsolicited or immediate job offers and rushed interview processes.
  • Insist on communicating with the hiring manager outside of email or text.
  • Verify the position is open by checking the official job board for the company.
  • Do not deposit suspicious or overpaid checks, and do not send money back due to overpayment through gift cards, a wire transfer or other nontraditional methods.

 

Debt Collections

Share of reports: 6%

Amount lost: $0

Debt collection scams often begin with contact from someone claiming legal action has either begun or will begin against the victim unless immediate action is taken. Scare tactics are heavily used, including threats of arrest, lawsuits or various effects on the victim’s taxes. The scammer may claim the outstanding debt is due to a credit card or an unpaid ticket, utility bill or taxes. Regardless of where the debt supposedly originates, a sense of urgency is always attached to the message. In the Waco-area, debt collection scam reports include unpaid utility or credit card bills .

To avoid debt collection scams, BBB recommends:

  • Avoid providing immediate payment over the phone or through a provided link.
  • Check debt collection policies of the business or agency. Most outstanding debts do not need to be paid in full immediately and instead will offer payment plans.
  • Do not use caller ID or federal badges as a sole proof of credibility – scammers have been known to spoof numbers and fabricate badges.
  • Only submit payments for an outstanding debt through the official payment portal. Do not send payment for debts through wire transfers, cryptocurrencies or mobile banking apps.

Cryptocurrency

Share of reports: 6%

Amounts lost: $12,300

In the past year, cryptocurrency scams have risen to be one of the riskiest scams North American consumers encounter. Scammers typically leverage the confusion associated with cryptocurrency investments and will ‘guarantee’ a significant return. Every report submitted to BBB by a Waco-area resident indicated the initial contact for these scams originated on social media, with some losing thousands of dollars through multiple interactions and investments. These scammers often provide a fake dashboard that gives the impression the investment is performing well, but when their target tries to withdraw the money, they must either pay a series of withdrawal fees or are unable to contact the trader.

To avoid cryptocurrency scams, BBB recommends:

  • Educate yourself about cryptocurrency terminology and investments before providing any money, including if there are fees for withdrawing.
  • Be wary of any trader who promises or guarantees a significant return on the investment.
  • Invest with caution if the trader presents the opportunity as an ‘inside scoop’ or is an online romantic interest. National reports to BBB indicate a link between romance and cryptocurrency scams.
  • Avoid making payments for products or services through adding funds to an individual’s cryptocurrency wallet. These types of payment are much more difficult to dispute than a standard credit card transaction.

Credit Cards

Share of reports: 6%

Amount lost: $0

Credit card scams can quickly spiral into a disastrous issue that can have long-term consequences on the victim’s financial well-being and credit score if not quickly caught. These often occur after providing credit card information to a fraudulent online seller, who then uses the card to purchase a series of items or gift cards. Scammers tend to use well-known and respected organizations to create enough trust that the victim feels comfortable providing their credit card information, with one Waco-area resident reporting that Better Business Bureau was impersonated.

To avoid credit card scams, BBB recommends:

  • Establishing multi-factor authentication protection on your credit card accounts to prevent access when passwords have been compromised.
  • Quickly notifying your credit card company when unauthorized charges are made, as well as issuing a freeze on your credit to prevent other accounts from being opened in your name.
  • Inputting credit or debt card information only on secured websites that include the lock icon in the address bar and ‘https.’
  • Thoroughly research a seller’s legitimacy using multiple sources before purchasing an item through their digital store.

If you have been a victim of a scam, report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker. Information provided may prevent another person from falling victim and helps BBB educate the public about scam tactics.

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