Target 2 Consumer Alert: the riskiest scams

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) -- Online shopping scams are now the riskiest form of consumer fraud, according to the Better Business Bureau.

Last year alone, consumers reported 47,000 scams to the BBB. Its scam tracker analyzed all of the scams, and determined online purchasing to be the worst.

The most common online purchase scams last year were related to pets, clothing, cosmetics, electronics and vehicles.

A heavily used tactic was “free trails” – the BBB says 67 percent of these scams involved cosmetics and 60 percent involved nutrition or diet products.

The results also found that young people are at higher risk for scams. This decreases with age, although the amount loss by scams actually increases as the person gets older.

Researches found that the phone call is still the primary contact for scams, but websites are the top mean of contact for scams with monetary loss. This means, you are now more susceptible to an online scam than you are to one over the phone.

In 2017, the top 10 riskiest scams were:

1. Online purchase scam (up from #4 in 2016)
2. Investment scam (up from #6 in 2016)
3. Employment scam (no change)
4. Advance fee loan scam (up from #5 in 2016)
5. Fake check scam (down from #2 in 2016)
6. Home improvement scam (down from #1 in 2016)
7. Tech support scam (up from #8 in 2016)
8. Travel/vacation scam (new to top 10, #12 in 2016)
9. Family/friend emergency scam (no change)
10. Government grant scam (new to top 10, #11 in 2016)

In addition, the BBB found many scams relate to travel and vacation scams, or scammers pretending to be legitimate businesses that are trusted by the consumer.

Scammers usually use similar tactics, promising a “great deal,” that they stress is time sensitive. Other times, scammers will use intimidation or isolation, to get a consumer to divulge personal information.

For more information about scams, contact the Wisconsin BBB at 920-734-4352 (Appleton) or 1-800-273-1002 (all other locations in Wisconsin).