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BBB finds scammers trapping people in record numbers during pandemic

Posted at 3:19 PM, Mar 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-01 18:08:03-05

Scammers have been busy during the pandemic— targeting people of all walks of life.

The Better Business Bureau just released their 2020 Risk report with some troubling findings.

The rise in scams ties directly to the pandemic with people and businesses desperate for products to protect their families and looking for steady income to provide.

With service members, military spouses, and veterans high on the list of people being scammed because they are often unfamiliar with where they are living and isolated.

Last year Marylanders submitted 846 scam tracker reports to Better Business Bureau serving Greater Maryland— that's up from 586 reports in 2019.

Angie Barnett, the President and CEO of the BBB of Greater Maryland, Inc. said almost half of every report noted a financial loss.

“We’re finding things, we’re not searching for things on social media," Barnett said. "We see something that piques our interest and that can lead us down that rabbit hole scammers build for us.”

Online purchase scams went up nearly 43%.

When brick and mortar stores ran out of soaps, disinfectants and hand sanitizers scammers capitalized.

“Scammers used this opportunity to set up fake websites," said Barnett. "Websites that look like this is the go-to place order first and foremost protective supplies.”

Scammers also used stimulus money as a hook to reel people in.

We know all too well about the tens of thousands of people who have filed for unemployment.

There were 79% more unemployment scam reports and the people who lost money from it gave up an average of over $1800.

“People thought they were paying for a service or maybe even a training to prepare them for a new job," Barnett said. "Also, in an unemployment scam you have to remember one thing scammers may be able to get from us is personal identifying information. Our Social Security, our driver's license. The information that you can give ego somebody when you apply for a job.”

Phishing scams were on the rise as well.

All those constant calls, texts and emails trying to get your personal information through imposters acting as government officials when people were voting by mail and urgent package delivery notices.

“You click on that link and you’re diverted to a fake website or malware is released. Shipping scams, right now we want to warn the public of COVID scams, vaccine related, testing related.”

Your best defense is doing your homework.

Find the company’s name that is reaching out to you can ask them if the correspondence is from them.

Report scams when you see them to the Better Business Bureau through scam tracker so that less people will become victims.

Also follow the golden rule of it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

To look at the full report and to learn more about how to keep you and your family click here.