Published March 6, 2023 12:59 p.m. ET
Updated March 6, 2023 1:53 p.m. ET
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A new report from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) says the riskiest frauds in Canada are home improvement scams and cryptocurrency scams, followed by advance fee loan scams.
The organization, which advocates for education to protect consumers, says home improvement scams were the riskiest in 2022, up from the fourth-riskiest ranking in 2021.
According to the report published March 6, 1,291 scams were reported by Canadian consumers to the BBB Scam Tracker in 2022. The overall median dollar loss reported was $300, a 20-per-cent increase from the 2021 median dollar loss of $250.
More people were being targeted by websites, social media and email in 2022, but in-person contact scams resulted in the highest amount of money lost, the report found.
BBB assigns a risk index score to scams based on the exposure (volume of reports), the susceptibility (per cent of those who lost money) and the monetary loss. The higher the overall risk score the more riskier the scam is for the public.
Home improvement scams, where perpetrators pretend to be a professional in the sector, resulted in a median loss of $1,900 for Canadians. BBB gives this scam a susceptibility score of 78.8 per cent and an overall risk score of 307.6. The scams with the highest risk scores are then ranked by BBB from riskiest to less risky.
Cryptocurrency scams were second on the BBB list, with a median loss of $2,000. The risk score was 190.2 and the susceptibility score is 62.7 per cent.
Advance fee loan scams had a susceptibility score of 59.1 per cent and a risk score of 185.6, according to the BBB tracker. The median loss for the scam was $1,388.
Different scams are targeted at certain demographics, the report explains.
“The percentage of Canadians who reported losing money after being targeted by a scam (susceptibility) increased for several age groups,” the BBB report reads. “In 2022, ages 35-44 reported higher susceptibility (57.2 per cent) than other age groups.”
Those aged 35 to 44 had a median dollar loss of $500 in 2022, higher than any other age group.
Combining all data from the BBB report, those aged 18 to 34 were more likely to fall for employment scams.
Online shopping scams tended to be riskiest for people aged 35 to 64 and home improvement scams were the riskiest for those aged 65 and older.
According to the whole report using data from the U.S. and Canada, the companies most likely to be impersonated by fraudsters, according to BBB, were Amazon, Geek Squad, Publishers Clearing House, the U.S. Postal Service and Norton.
Employment and online shopping scams were deemed riskiest overall, based on all the data.
“Employment scams, which peaked at #1 on our list in 2019, are seeing a resurgence,” Melissa Lanning Trumpower, executive director of the BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust, said in the press release. “This is a high-touch scam in which perpetrators spend more time with their targets in the hope of stealing more money from each target.
The report says that, overall, cryptocurrency scams dropped in 2022 from the second spot to third, due to a decrease in people reporting the scam type. One reason for the drop is that fewer people fell for cryptocurrency scams resulting in less median dollars lost overall.
SCAM PREVENTION TIPS FROM BBB
For home improvement scams, BBB recommends saying no to cash-only deals and anyone with “pressure sales tactics.” The organization says high upfront payments and “handshake deals” are signs of a potential home improvement scam.
“Whenever possible, work with businesses that have proper identification, licensing, and insurance,” the BBB report reads.
Asking for references and getting quotes from other businesses is encouraged by BBB before hiring someone to work on a home.
With more perpetrators using social media and the internet to scam, BBB says to be “extremely cautious when dealing with anyone you’ve met online.”
Never send money to someone without meeting face-to-face and be aware of oversharing on social media, the company says.
“Don’t click on links or open attachments in unsolicited email or text messages,” the BBB report says.