GRAND RAPIDS — Online purchase fraud was the top scam of 2021 in the 38-county area of the Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan.
No. 2 on the Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan list of the top scams of 2021 was phishing fraud. Sweepstakes/lottery scams tied employment scams for No. 3 on the list, according to a release.
Pet scams topped the online purchase fraud BBB list. The biggest mistake consumers made was purchasing a pet online without seeing the animal in person first.
Scammers often create fake breeding sites complete with pictures to entice consumers to make an online pet purchase.
“You should never give anyone money for an animal until you see it with your own eyes. That is the only way to know it is real and not a scam,” Lisa Frohnapfel, President & CEO of the Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan, said in the release. “The scammers find a number of reasons to keep you paying, and the dog never arrives. This hurts people on two levels. Victims often tell us they are more upset about not getting the dog than the money they lost.”
Phishing scams are when consumers receive emails and phone calls posing as organizations, asking for personal information. The most popular business mimicked in 2021 was Amazon.
Most of the sweepstakes scams involve people posing as Publisher’s Clearing House. Consumers often receive phone calls or letters claiming they have won a prize, but the scammer wants personal information and/or money to send it.
Most employment scams feature fake potential employers who set up online interviews. Employees are then asked for personal information and charged up front for things like training costs and office supplies.
To avoid a pet scam, consumers should demand to see the animal in person before giving any money. Consumers also can check bbb.org for accredited breeders and shelters.
For other scams, consumers should never give personal information over the phone or click on any suspicious links. The BBB also cautions that offers that seem to good to be true may be a scam.
If you are a victim or have been targeted by scams, it can be reported at bbb.org/scamtracker.