Consumer Watchdog: Better Business Bureau issues annual Scam Tracker report

Consumer Watchdog - Sarah Hite Hando | March 18th, 2017 1:00 pm - updated: 1:00 pm.

The Better Business Bureau recently released its annual scam tracker report for 2016. The report lends insight into what scams were most often reported last year, how much financial damage was caused by con artists, and who was most at-risk for these types of crimes.

Here are some highlights from the report:

• There were 32,781 scams reported to the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker in 2016.

• Victims lost an average of $274.

• Those between the ages of 18 and 24 were more susceptible to lose money than any other age group and lost an average of $200.

• Those aged 65 and older lost more money (an average of $390) than any other age group, though they were the least susceptible to being scammed.

• Men and women were nearly equally susceptible to being victims of a con game, though men were reported as losing an average of more money than women to scams ($361 vs. $249). Men were most at risk to fall for investment scams, while women reported online purchase scams as the most risky.

• Most victims reported being contacted by scammers via telephone, and most money was lost via credit card payments.

• The top five most risky scams, in order, included: home improvement scams (think someone stopping by to seal your driveway), fake check scams, employment scams (work from home and earn thousands!), online purchase scams, and advance fee loan scams.

So, what can we learn from all this?

First of all, knowledge is power. The more you know about the nature of scams, who is reported as being most susceptible and how much money can be lost, it makes you more apt to realize when you are being scammed.

The report also states it can help those involved in making policies and enforcing laws to know what scams are out there, what the risks are and how to better combat them.

According to the report, marketplace scams resulted in $50 billion lost last year and affected one in four households and one in five individuals. That’s a lot of people, and certainly a lot of money. So, if you think it can’t happen to you — think again.

You probably know someone who has been the victim of a scam and aren’t even aware of it. Reports like these also help ease the stigma of the victim mentality. The more people learn about and report scams, the more others can learn from that experience and prevent con artists from taking their hard-earned money.

To view the full report online, visit

For other business stories, click here.

Consumer Watchdog

Sarah Hite Hando

Sarah Hite Hando is the Times Leader business editor. Reach her at 570-704-3945 or [email protected]