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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

BBB Tip of the Week: The top scams of 2016

Kirstin Davis,BBB

The Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker confirmed that IRS and tax scams are still at the top of the list for most reported scams in 2016.

A police raid in Mumbai, India, drastically dropped the number of complaints from an average of 200 per week to just 11 the week after the raid in September. The list was compiled based on more than 30,000 scam reports filed by consumers on BBB Scam Track, a free interactive online tool.

Not all consumers who made a report lost money, as many recognized the scam before being victimized but reported it anyway to help warn others.

    What hasn’t changed? The top three scams on the 2016 list are tax scams, debt collection scams, and sweepstakes or gift-related scams. This is the same order of top three complaints in 2015.

    What is new to the list? New to the top 10 are online purchase scams coming in at number four and phishing scams at number 10 on the list. Work-from-home scams were combined with all employment scams, making them come in at number five. Another change was the drop of tech support scams from No. 4 last year to No. 7 this year.

    How to spot a scam. Phone calls suggesting tax or debt collections should be handled with extreme caution. Reputable collection agencies will provide specific information and allow time to research and a way to contact them. If a phone caller or email suggests payment through a money order, prepaid credit cards or gift cards it is likely a scam. Solicitors who become aggressive or threaten punishment are a sign of scam tactics.

The stereotype that seniors are more likely to be scammed is wrong. A study released earlier this year shows millennials are actually more vulnerable to scams than baby boomers.

The research confirms more than 30,000 consumers have reported details of scams and of those consumers reporting scams, 89 percent of seniors (age 65 and up) recognized the scam in time, while only 11 percent reported actually losing money. For those aged 18-24, however, more than three times as many failed to recognize the scam and 34 percent reported losing money.

Marketplace scams affect 1 in 4 North American households each year at an estimated loss to individuals and families of $50 billion, yet most consumers believe they are invulnerable. Anyone who feels they’ve been a victim of ID theft or a scam should report it to local law enforcement and BBB Scam Tracker.