In February 2015, Better Business Bureau serving Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin unveiled Scam Tracker, an interactive tool consumers throughout the U.S. and Canada can use to find and report scams and fraud. BBB’s Scam Tracker website enables BBB to collect and track that information in a meaningful way.
With BBB Scam Tracker, consumers can find scams in an area near them, by state and city. Scam reports can also be sorted to reveal trends by date or the type of scam. So far this year, more than 300 scams have been reported in Texas. Types of scams reported include debt collection calls, grants with fees, advanced fee loans, sweepstakes and IRS calls.
BBB launched Scam Tracker as another way to promote a more ethical marketplace and help shed light on schemes and fraud. Scam Tracker is unique because it compiles comprehensive data on illegal and individual scams.
Unlike complaints, scam reports are not addressed individually, but serve as a means to warn others and get the word out to the public about scams. In the future, scam reports will be shared with the National Cyber Forensics and Training Alliance for analysis and collaboration with law enforcement to help stop the most flagrant scammers through prosecution and other legal means.
BBB offers these tips to avoid scams:
- Always check out a business with BBB first.Go to org to see a company’s BBB Business Review.
- Get everything in writing and always read the fine print.Contracts are meant to protect businesses and consumers by outlining the terms of the agreement. While it’s natural to want to skim through parts of the long-written terms and conditions, it is important to fully understand their rights and what you are agreeing to. Whenever signing a contract, BBB recommends reading the fine print carefully—even if it means taking it home and sleeping on it.
- Protect your identity—and your pocketbook.Fighting identity theft means staying vigilant online and offline. Always shred sensitive documents that include personal financial information such as bank, credit card and Social Security numbers. Monitor your financial accounts closely to quickly detect suspicious activity. Shop online through secure sites by looking for the “s” in “https”. Always confirm that the business is trustworthy before entering your credit or debit card number.
- Never wire money to someone you don’t know.Scammers know it’s extremely difficult to track money sent via MoneyGram or Western Union. What is more troubling for victims is the fact that it’s nearly impossible to get your money back once it has been sent via wire transfer. Even if you have been given a check to cover the amount you’re wiring, never send money to someone you don’t personally know. The check could be fraudulent, leaving you liable for the money.
The release of Scam Tracker to every BBB across the U.S., including Canada, is expected to be completed by November 2015. If BBB Scam Tracker is not yet available on your local BBB’s website, you can still research and report scams in your area here.