Online scams continue to plague consumers
Tactics used by scammers have shifted dramatically during the past several years. In fact, online scams rose 87% since 2015, according to a new report published by the Better Business Bureau. However, over the last seven years, scams perpetrated by phone dropped by 42%.
The new report, Start With Trust® Online: BBB Online Scams Report, analyzes the changes in how scams are committed, including new information about impersonation and online purchase scams. This research is based on an analysis of more than 300,000 reports submitted to BBB Scam TrackerSM between 2015 and 2022, and survey research conducted in July 2022.
So far in 2022, online scams are more prevalent (55%) than other delivery methods, with a higher percentage of people losing money when targeted (75%).
The scam type with a monetary loss most often reported beginning online was online purchase scams (89%), followed by cryptocurrency scams (87%), romance scams (85%), investment scams (73%), employment scams (68%), and government grant scams (64%).
The #1 place people reported being targeted by a scam was while browsing social media (25%), followed by online shopping (24%), email (14%), search engines (10%), and job search (7%).
Impersonation scams are also prevalent. In fact, People who lost money to a scam were almost twice as likely as those who avoided losing money to say the scammer used impersonation as a tactic. Of those who reported being targeted by an impersonation scam, 50% said the scammer pretended to be a well-known business.
Online purchase scams continued to be the most reported scam type to BBB Scam Tracker in 2022, making up 30.0% of all scams reported, with 71.6% reporting a monetary loss. The reported median dollar loss for this type of scam rose from $101 in 2021 to $114 in 2022. How and where you search, research, and conduct transactions may impact your susceptibility to online scams.
The bottom line is: If the deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. Price was the top motivating factor for people who made a purchase and then lost money. Don’t shop on price alone.
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 it is. For example, if a business displays a BBB Accredited Business seal, you can verify its legitimacy by going to BBB.org and looking up the company.
That’s not mom texting!
Scammers have long used social media to impersonate family members. A new tactic has been discovered: text messages using spoofed caller ID. This scam can be hard to spot at first glance because scammers are counting on people having a contact with a listing with the relative’s name listed as Mom, Dad, Aunt, Uncle - you get the idea.
A text message appears from “Mom” (or in other variations, “Dad.”) According to the message, “Mom” is at the store, but she left her credit card at home by accident and she’s asking to have $150 sent to finish her shopping?
The request seems harmless, but don’t do it! Scammers are known to spoof caller ID to appear as “Mom” or “Dad.” They rely on the fact that many people have "Dad" or "Mom" saved in their contacts list hoping they won’t think twice (or double-check the phone number) before sending help. Keep in mind, once the money is transferred to a bank or digital wallet account, the money is gone for good.
How to spot fake emergency text messages
Look for the weirdness of the situation. For example, if your parents never send text messages, it’s probably not them texting now. On the other hand, if they text all the time but never ask for money, it’s probably dealing with an impersonator - and a huge red flag.
Scroll through for a new message thread. If you regularly text with your parents, there should be previous messages from them. If not, it’s probably a scammer contacting you for the first time. Double check the sender info. Click on the sender information to make sure the name matches your parent’s real phone number.
Instead of texting and wondering, call your parents to confirm the story. Don’t use the number that contacted you. Instead, look up the number in your contacts list to call them to confirm if the message really came from them.
Don’t be fooled if a scammer has personal information about you. Because of data breaches and social media posts, scammers may have some of your personal information, including your name and your parent’s name.
If it sounds suspicious, don’t answer. Simply block the number and delete the message. If you reply, scammers will know your number is active and could target you with scams in the future.
If you’ve been a victim of a similar scam, report it to BBB Scam Tracker and have mom/dad as well as yourself sign up for our weekly Scam Alert emails on BBB.org/scamtracker.
BBB Business Tip: How to prepare and organize inventory for the holiday season
The holiday season is the busiest time of year for most small businesses and retail stores. In fact, many people have probably already started their holiday shopping before Halloween. For many small business owners, the upcoming holiday season will involve long hours to prepare for the rush. BBB offers a few tips to help simplify at least one labor-intensive task, preparing and organizing inventory for the holiday season.
Inventory management is important throughout the year and becomes a higher priority during the waning months of the year when shoppers are looking for specific items to help fill their carts. It is vital to manage store inventory properly to avoid potentially costly mistakes, such as having too many or too few items in stock.
Consider the following tips:
Build a sales forecast based on last year's data. A sales forecast is an estimate of how much merchandise sold during a specific period. Look at last year’s sales report to get an idea of how much inventory to keep in stock. This will help with where or how to organize inventory.
Conduct market research to predict upcoming demand. Planning inventory for the future and avoiding potentially catastrophic mistakes. This market research also helps predict which products will be most profitable to sell during the busy holiday season.
Audit the current inventory to stay on top of what’s in stock. The audits show the current state of inventory, including how many units of each item currently have available. When partnered with the sales forecast, it allows more informed decisions for the holiday season.
Plan for extra storage and make room for the extra stock necessary to keep on hand to fulfill holiday orders and keep the inventory flowing. One option is to rent extra storage space in a warehouse, especially if there isn’t much space in the current facility. Another solution is to rent a portable storage unit.
Create a replenishment plan detailing how much inventory is needed, when it should be ordered, and who will place the order. A good replenishment plan will help avoid running out of stock and ensure customers' needs are met.
The holidays are a busy time of year for small business owners. Look for additional tips on BBB.org/BizHQ