As the summer season approaches its unofficial end, often recognized by the Labor Day holiday, Better Business Bureau serving the Heart of Texas wants to take this opportunity to provide information regarding the rate of scams and their impact on Texas residents from May 1-Aug. 31, 2021.
According to BBB Scam Tracker, Texas residents reported more than $990,000 lost to scams during the summer, averaging slightly under $250,000 lost per month from May 1-Aug. 31, 2021. Almost half (42%) of all scam reports indicated that money was lost, demonstrating how convincing scammers can be when interacting with a potential victim. The top three most-reported scams during this period were online purchasing, phishing and employment scams. Additionally, Texas residents lost more than $270,000 to cryptocurrency scams and more than $215,000 to investment scams.
To further understand the impact of the most common scams in Texas during summer 2021, BBB provides the following information:
Impact of online purchasing scams
• Made up 29% of all reports from May 1–Aug. 31, 2021. • More than $130,000 was reported lost.
• The most susceptible age range is 45-54 years old; however, consumers aged 35-44 account for 36% of the total money lost to online purchasing scams.
• Consumers lost the most amount of money to online purchasing scams when attempting to purchase a pet online.
Impact of phishing scams
• Approximately $9,000 was reported lost.
• The most susceptible age range is 55-65 years old; however, consumers aged 25-34 account for 77% of the total money lost to phishing scams.
• According to the Insurance Information Institute, phishing scams were one of the top causes of data compromise in the first half of 2021.
• During this period, Amazon was the most impersonated company by con artists attempting a phishing scam.
Impact of employment scams
• More than $25,000 was reported lost. • The most susceptible age range is 25-34 years old, accounting for 75% of total money lost to employment scams.
• The most common employment scams reported were for package reshipment and secret shopper job offers.
• Employment scams often include a phishing element when the applicant’s personal information becomes compromised after providing it to a fraudulent employer.
To avoid the most common scams affecting Texas residents from May 1–Aug. 31, 2021, BBB recommends:
Avoiding online purchasing scams
Verify the source of purchase. According to the 2020 BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report, out of the 57% of consumers who did not research the website or business via an independent source before making a purchase, 81% lost money. Be sure to take the time to investigate a business or company thoroughly before making an order. Check online for reviews and customer complaints at BBB.org.
Use protected payment methods. Avoid paying for transactions by wire transfer, prepaid money card, gift card or other abnormal methods. BBB recommends using a credit card for all online purchases due to the protections it offers to void a transaction if a purchased item or service was never received or rendered.
Check that the website is secure. Look for the “https” in the URL of a website, especially before inputting personal information. The “s” stands for secure and includes additional encryption protocols that are not present in a standard “http” URL. The “lock” icon should also appear in the website address.
For more information on how to avoid scammers posing as a pet supplier online, visit BBB.org/PuppyScam.
Avoiding phishing scams
Avoid opening emails or texts from unknown sources. If you receive communication from an unknown or unsolicited source that includes a link or downloadable file, exercise extreme caution when interacting with the email or text message. Downloading files from unverified sources may install malware on your electronic device, including mobile phones, tablets, or gaming systems.
Verify communication. Before interacting with an email or text message claiming to originate from a company or governmental body, verify it is legitimate by checking online or calling the organization personally. Scammers often disguise themselves as well-known organizations to convince consumers to disclose personal information. Reports in Texas indicate that Amazon is one of the most common companies scammers claim to represent.
Use multi-factor authentication. Some accounts offer additional security by requiring two or more credentials to access the personal information contained within. Often, this may be a security code sent via text message or email in addition to your regular password. BBB recommends establishing multi-factor authentication on your most sensitive accounts to make it harder for scammers to log in if they obtain your username and password through a phishing scam.
For more information on how to avoid phishing scams, visit BBB.org/PhishingScam.
Avoiding employment scams
Some positions are more likely to be scams. Be wary of package reshipment and secret shopper positions, as well as any jobs with generic titles such as caregiver, administrative assistant or customer service representative. Employment positions that do not require special training or knowledge appeal to a wide range of applicants, which scammers use to cast a wider net for potential victims. If the job posting is for a well-known company, check the company’s job posting page to see if the position is legitimate.
Do not deposit unexpected or suspicious checks. Be cautious with whom and how you share your personal information, such as banking information. Do not fall for an overpayment scam. Legitimate companies will not overpay an employee and ask for compensation by requiring money to be wired elsewhere.
Beware of aggressive employment offers. Any pressure to sign or onboard immediately is a sign that the company may not be legitimate. Choosing a place to work is an important decision that most legitimate companies understand requires time to consider. Be especially wary if the position is offered without an interview or promises a large income as long as the employee pays for coaching, training or certifications.
For more information on how to avoid employment scams, visit BBB.org/EmploymentScam.
If you have been a victim of a scam, report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker. Information provided contributes to a greater understanding of the tactics and strategies of con artists in Texas and throughout the nation.
ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, the Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2020, people turned to BBB more than 220 million times for BBB Business Profiles on 6.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at BBB.org. There are local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico.