Worrisome trends found by BBB Risk Report
Consumers are chasing an enemy that stays one step ahead. As awareness and education of fraud prevention grows, so do the tricks fraudsters employ. As much as we’d like to think we’re too wise to fall prey to their lies, the numbers show us otherwise.
The 2022 BBB Risk Report reveals consumers are losing more money and becoming more susceptible to scams. It found an alarming 20 per cent increase in the median loss faced by those who have their hard-earned money stripped away. Consumers are losing about $300 each time they’re fooled, a substantial amount of cash to see evaporate. The report also found a four per cent increase in the number of people who reported losing money after being targeted by a scam.
The worrying data doesn’t stop there, especially for those who believe they’re too savvy to ever become someone’s financial prey. The report showed high susceptibility across all age ranges, debunking theories that it’s only those who are elderly and vulnerable falling victim.
This is because scams come in all forms, are constantly changing, and those behind them are work diligently to fool even the smartest shoppers. The typical scams (calls from random numbers alerting you you’re being summoned to court, an aggressive salesperson messaging you online) are not the prevalent ones. Instead, home improvement schemes took home top spot on the 2022 riskiest scam list.
They’re easy to fall for. You call what appears to be a four or five-star online reviewed company and ask for a quote or a service. They show up, survey your home and tell you how they operate. They may offer you a deal that’s so enticing, you jump on it without first having the contract in place. You place a deposit and you wait for the work to start. Except it never does.
Sometimes the scammer may even start the work, but not finish. Other times, you may find you’ve just given a thief access to your valuables. But you cannot contact the perpetrators, you never see your money or valuables again and the project you wanted done remains unfinished.
There are many different types of home-improvement scams, from those set up by pure fraudsters hoping to lure you into an upfront payment to those who finish a job with cheap materials and poor craftsmanship. Regardless of the outcome, there may not be many warning signs if you don’t know where to look.
The Better Business Bureau recommends researching all companies you’re interested in hiring on bbb.org. You can read vetted reviews to ensure they’re not fake or that the company isn’t trying to emulate an existing one. Then be sure to check the company’s licensing and insurance. If they don’t have these items, that’s a red flag. Be sure to do your own research on what permits are required and confirm the vendor has them or will secure them. Say no to cash-only deals, high-pressure sales tactics, handshake deals, high upfront payments and on-site inspections. Be sure to have a written contract and keep a copy.
Last, do your due diligence. Check out multiple companies and listen to your gut if you feel anything is off or worrisome.
For more information on the latest BBB Risk Report, for more insights on how to avoid falling victim to scams, or to research companies before hiring, visit bbb.org
Better Business Bureau
BBB helps people find and recommend businesses, brands and charities they can trust.