scam alert

The Coronavirus pandemic caused specific scams to grow exponentially in 2020. Better Business Bureau (BBB) experts warn these top five schemes may continue to be an issue as the new year begins.

BBB has seen the number of consumers falling for common scams soar last year. Cybercriminals will continue to use those same schemes as the new year progresses.

“Unfortunately, during the pandemic, we’ve seen con artists become more aggressive,” says Robyn Householder, President and CEO of BBB Serving Middle TN and Southern KY. “Whether it’s online or over the phone, we must remain vigilant.”

The BBB says the big one to look out for is online shopping scams.

“We saw online shopping scams break from the usual trend in March with many con artists focusing on PPE gear originally. Now, we see online shopping scams all the time, mostly when people shop for items on websites that they do not know,” says Householder. “Then they purchase an item that they never get or they get an inferior product.”

BBB says they expect Pet scams, which skyrocketed last year, to continue into 2021 with con artists posting fake offers online. The BBB also expects employment scams to increase in 2021.

As the pandemic continues, BBB says beware of government imposter scams and grant scams.

“Especially with the talk of stimulus checks, grants, and the continued increase of government interactions. With the pandemic, we’re seeing more and more scams trying to say they are the CDC, IRS, your local police, or non-existent government organizations. So be careful.”

BBB recommends avoiding too good to be true offers, ignoring suspicious messages, and using credit cards for online purchases.

“Be very careful when you look at anything that pops up, whether it’s a text message, an email, a social media ad, or even an unsolicited phone call. If you did not initiate the interaction, have your guard up and do a little extra investigating at that point,” says Householder.

To report a scam, visit the BBB Scam Tracker.

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