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As the summer season comes to an unofficial end, often recognized by the Labor Day holiday, Better Business Bureau serving Wisconsin wants to take this opportunity to provide information regarding the rate of scams and their impact on Wisconsin residents from May 1-Aug. 31, 2021.
According to BBB Scam Tracker, Wisconsin residents reported more than $93,000 lost to scams during the summer, averaging $23,250 lost per month from May 1-Aug. 31, 2021. BBB’s Scam Tracker website allows consumers to self-report when they’ve been exposed to a scam, whether or not they’ve lost money. More than half (53%) of all scam reports indicated that money was lost, demonstrating how convincing scammers can be when interacting with a potential victim. The top two reported scams during this period were online purchasing and phishing scams. Additionally, Wisconsin residents lost more than $10,550 to cryptocurrency scams.
To further understand the impact of the most common scams in Wisconsin during summer 2021, BBB provides the following information:
Impact of online purchasing scams
- Made up 40% of all reports from May 1–Aug. 31, 2021.
- More than $29,000 was reported lost.
- Consumers lost the most amount of money to online purchasing scams when attempting to purchase a pet online. Wisconsinites reported 19 pet scams via BBB Scam Tracker, with a total loss of $14,538 lost ($765 average loss).
Impact of phishing scams
- Made up 12% of all reports from May 1-Aug. 31, 2021.
- Approximately $979 was reported lost.
- 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, companies such as Amazon, FedEx, UPS, and PayPal, as well as government agencies such as the Social Security Administration, were commonly impersonated by con artists attempting a phishing scam.
- 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 Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin 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.
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 Wisconsin and throughout the nation.