“This was a surprise,” said Tom Bartholomy, president of the BBB. “It’s the first time since we began this report three years ago that one scam dominated across so many demographic subgroups. It was the riskiest scam in three of the six age groups, and for both men and women. It was also the riskiest scam for military families and veterans, and students.”
Digging into the Risk Report shows one possible answer: Amazon was in the news a lot in 2018 with its high profile search for a second headquarters. It was also the 6th most impersonated organization mentioned in BBB Scam Tracker reports, after not even making the top 15 in previous years. In 2017, only 24 BBB Scam Tracker reports were employment scams that mentioned Amazon. In 2018, that jumped to 564.
“Scammers are opportunists,” says Bartholomy. “Whatever is in the news or being talked about on social media, they see as an opening to imposter a recognizable and respected organization or brand.” The Internal Revenue Service is the leading impersonated organization, and other government agencies together rank second. Other leading brands that scammers impersonate include Publishers Clearing House, Microsoft, Apple … and the Better Business Bureau.
Amazon, a BBB Accredited Business, has only one authorized job application site: amazon.jobs. Any other link is a scam, said Bartholomy.
“Employment scams are particularly egregious because they prey on people who are already feeling pinched and may be desperate for work,” he said. “If the scam gets far enough, scammers collect the same information that real employers do – address, birth date, Social Security number, bank account – everything needed for identity theft.”
The ten riskiest national scams of 2018 were: employment, online purchase, fake checks/money orders, home improvement, advance fee loans, romance, tech support, investment, travel/vacation, and government grant.
- For more highlights from Tech-Savvy Scammers Work to Con More Victims: 2018 BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report, download the infographic at BBB.org/RiskReport.
- For the full report, go to BBB.org/RiskReport.
- To report a scam, go to BBB.org/ScamTracker.
- To learn more about different scam types, go to BBB.org/ScamTips.
ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, the Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands, and charities they can trust. In 2018, people turned to BBB more than 173 million times for BBB Business Profiles on nearly 5.4 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at BBB.org. The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for the local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, as well as home to its national and international programs on dispute resolution, advertising review, and industry self-regulation.
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