NBC 5 Responds

Don't Be Fooled: BBB Shares Top Scams Consumers Fell Victim To In 2021

With prevention in mind, the Better Business Bureau is sharing the painful list of scams that hit hardest, impacting the most consumers in 2021.

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It's a sobering statistic: Consumers in 2021 lost more than $5.8 billion to fraud last year.

That finding comes from the Federal Trade Commission, which found online shopping and imposter scams topped the list, targeting millions of Americans each year.

NBC 5 Responds hears from consumers constantly, sharing their nightmare con stories, and now, the Better Business Bureau has released its overview of the scams that hit Illinoisans and Americans most last year. 

"Education is of paramount importance in preventing these scams," said Steve Bernas, president of the Better Business Bureau serving the Chicago area. "There’s not enough law enforcement, police, judges that would prevent these scams from happening across the world."

The BBB Scam Tracker Risk report is aimed at shining a light on the darkest practices of con artists, including a top list of the scams consumers reported falling victim to most.

Better Business Bureau
This list from the Better Business Bureau shows the top scams targeting consumers in 2021.

In its newly released list, the BBB found investment scams as the fifth most reported con targeting consumers, a scam NBC 5 Responds covered in-depth last year.

Two suburban Chicago couples turned to NBC 5 to warn others after each were hit by $40,000 fraudulent withdrawals around the same time. 

In a follow-up to a report of a similar theft, NBC 5 Responds' Lisa Parker introduces us to a family whose retirement savings were targeted by thieves.

Up the list, home improvement and employment scams hit hard, nationwide. The median monetary loss for both types of scams cost consumers more than $900 on average. 

And in 2021, a new scam the BBB found growing in popularity and another NBC 5 has covered: scams involving cryptocurrency.

"Consumers should know any type of unconventional payment methods is what we call the tip off to the rip off," Bernas said.

The median loss with cryptocurrency scams: $1,200.

NBC 5 Responds spoke to a Joliet man last November when he said his cryptocurrency was targeted in a SIM swap scam.

Resetting an account’s password is like having your hardware store make a new key to your home. Many use their phone numbers as a way to retrieve temporary codes to change their passwords for convenience. But that method is also convenient for thieves looking for ways to access your most important accounts online. NBC 5’s Lisa Parker has the story of...

Sitting at the top of the BBB's top scams list: scams involving online shopping and purchases. 

The product most often advertised in online purchase scams? Puppy sales.

The BBB does not mince words when it comes to buying a pet online: bad idea, unless you thoroughly vet the source of where the puppy is coming from. Bernas recommends anyone interested in finding a pet to find an in-person source or local shelter versus a company or person online.

For those who do fall victim, the BBB recommends reporting it not only to authorities, but also to the BBB itself. Reporting scams can help establish patterns and catch predators, while also helping others avoid the same trap. 

To learn more about reporting a scam to the BBB, or more information about the Risk Report, click here.

Have a consumer complaint? Call 1-844-NBC-RESP or let us know by clicking here, so we can help.

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