Debt collection scams sit atop the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois’ Top 10 Scams of 2019. The annual report analyzes data gathered through the organization’s Scam Tracker, which encourages consumers to report fraudulent activity to help BBB monitor nationwide and local trends more effectively.
According to the BBB, phony debt collectors have the rise of robocall and student debt complaints to blame for their No. 1 ranking. Debt collection scams, like many others, bank on the fear of consumers through threats and demands of payment to find their victims.
But a new bill signed into law last week aims to limit the reach of robocallers by requiring phone companies to offer call-blocking apps and number verification free of charge. The Traced Act, which passed with bipartisan support, will also allow the FCC to fine scammers without warning and require the agency to assemble a group to study progress.
Other notable changes to the list came from the apparent decrease in consumer reports of online purchase scams. Complaints related to e-commerce and fake retail sites vaulted online purchases to the top of 2018’s list, but the BBB says a community effort is what brought down the scam’s ranking to from first to third.
“The credit for reducing these scams goes to consumers and media for reporting and raising awareness which helps alert others before they get victimized,” Steve Bernas, president and CEO of Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois, said in a statement.
"The information we receive from consumers is vital to stop these scams. We urge everyone to report any scams they see to the BBB Scamtracker, to help protect others from loss.”
Top 10 Scams of 2019:
- Debt Collections - invoices, calls or emails for fake debts
- Advance Fee Loan - the promise of a "loan" - after you pay fees
- Online Purchase - fake websites
- Employment - scam job offers
- Fake Check/Money Order - scammers send a fake check and convince recipients to send fees or the balance of an "overpayment" back
- Identity Theft - New to the list and the fastest growing; white-collar crime
- Credit Card - New to the list - fake emails and calls claiming there's a problem with your account in order to steal money and information - or fake credit card debt consolidation
- Utility Scams - fake calls/emails claiming your service will be shut off unless you pay
- Counterfeit Product - often tied in with scam websites - consumers are sent cheap counterfeit items worth a fraction of the real item
- Fake Government Contracts - Send application fees for Government Grants and programs supplying money.