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BBB Tip of the Week: Who is at the biggest risk of being scammed?

By Kirstin Davis BBB Marketplace Director

Better Business Bureau Institute for Marketplace Trust has developed a deeper way to understand prevalent scams and their impact.

Historically, scam report data has been volume-based and ranked according to the number of scams reported. In 2016, Better Business Bureau launched an online reporting tool called Scam Tracker. It is an accessible, easy-to-use tool allowing consumers and businesses to report scams. Over 32,000 reports were submitted to Scam Tracker in its first year.

Scams evolve and permeate at accelerated speed with technology and global communication. It is time tracking and reporting are more sophisticated and comprehensive. The Scam Tracker Annual Risk Report provides comprehensive insight into scams based on data received involving three dimensions. How likely a person is to being exposed to a scam? If exposed, how likely are they to lose money? Finally, if money is lost how much is it likely to be? All of this data contributes to the risk index of the scam: Exposure times susceptibility times monetary loss equals risk index.

There is no doubt that scams have gone high tech creating enormous numbers in delivery. Volume alone can be misleading and by including other critical factors such as susceptibility and dollars lostthe BBB is able to assess the amount of risk. Using this formula, the BBB learned the riskiest scam is the face-to-face home improvement scam, with fake check scams running a close second. Based on the BBB Risk Index, the riskiest top five scams overall (U.S. and Canada combined) are:

1. Home improvement scams (

2. Fake checks and money orders (

3. Employment scams (

4. Online purchase scams (

5. Advance fee loan scams (

Additional findings:

  • Men have a slight lead over women in susceptibility.
  • Men are more likely to be scammed out of more money than women.
  • The most susceptible age of being scammed is between 18 and 24.
  • The highest amount of median loss occurs in people over the age 65.

Consumers and businesses are the only ones who can provide this information to Scam Tracker and are urged to report all scams to BBB Scam Tracker at, whether or not money is actually lost. Reporting a scam attempt or success helps others.

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