New England’s Top Scams of 2017, and How You Can Avoid Them in 2018

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By Emma Kandrac

Here are the top scams of 2017 as reported to Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern MA, ME, RI & VT. The list was compiled based on more than 960 scam reports filed by consumers in the area on bbb.org/scamtracker, with a total of $217, 193 collective dollars lost by victims.

Not of all of the consumers that reported these scams lost money, as many recognized the scam before being victimized, but reported them to help warn others. BBB Serving Eastern MA, ME, RI & VT has compiled the top five scams affecting the area in 2017 with information on each scam and how to avoid them this year:

Phishing Scams

  • 361 reports
  • $12,000 lost

Tips to avoid this scam:

  • If something sounds suspicious, confirm it by calling the business or checking the business website. Type the URL directly into your browser or do a web search. DON’T click on any links in unsolicited messages.
  • Be cautious of generic emails. Scammers try to cast a wide net by including little or no specific information in their fake emails. Always be wary of messages that don’t contain your name, last digits of your account number or other personalizing information.

Online Purchases

  • 125 reports
  • $67,050 lost

Tips to avoid this scam:

  • Be aware that even if you are able to cash a check or see funds recorded in your account statement, it may still be a fake. Your bank may even tell you a check has “cleared,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean you are in the clear—it can take several weeks to find out that a check has bounced.
  • When buying or selling on a site that offers protections to buyers and sellers, take advantage of them. If a buyer or seller tries to persuade you to go outside the site’s usual process or payment methods, that’s a big red flag.

Travel/Vacations Scams

  • 47 reports
  • $2,114 lost

Tips to avoid this scam:

  • Don’t wire money or use a prepaid debit card. You should never pay for a vacation rental by prepaid debit card or wire transfer. These payments are the same as sending cash. Once you send the money, you have no way to get it back. That’s why scammers depend upon these forms of payment.
  • If it’s too good to be true it probably is. Scammers lure in targets by guaranteeing sales or promising vacation rentals at low prices. Do your research. In general, free online ad services are going to be the most risky.

For more information you can trust, visit us at bbb.org.

(Kandrac joined Better Business Bureau of Eastern MA, ME, RI & VT in 2016, serving as a Copywriter for the Communications & Marketing team in Marlborough, MA.)