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Rely on BBB for anti-scam assistance

When Better Business Bureau launched BBB Scam Tracker earlier this year, it was expected that tax scams would be high on the list.

What was surprising was how high; more than the next three categories put together. In the first 10,000 scam reports processed by BBB, a whopping 24 percent were about impostors pretending to be either the Internal Revenue Service (2,363 reports) or the Canadian Revenue Agency (50 reports).

The rest of the top 10 were all some form of impostor scam: debt collection scam, sweepstakes scam, tech support scam, government grant scam, etc. About 85 percent of those reporting scams to BBB recognized them as frauds before any money was stolen, but the Top 10 Scams still account for more than $1 million lost from those who filed with BBB.

There is a science to scams, and it may surprise you to know that scammers use many of the same techniques as legitimate sales professionals. The difference, of course, is that their “product” is illegal and could cost you a fortune. Here are the major techniques they use to draw you in:

Establishing a connection: The scammer builds rapport and a relationship with you. This is usually used face-to-face, as in home improvement scams and many investment scams, but also online romance scams.

Source credibility: Scammers use techniques to make themselves look legitimate, such as fake websites, social media posts, or hacked emails that come from a friend’s account. Most email phishing scams spoof real companies, and many scammers pretend to be a trusted business or government agency in order to add credibility.

Playing on emotions: Scammers rely on emotion to get you to make a quick decision before you have time to think about it. An emergency situation or a limited-time offer is usually their methodology. They count on emotional rather than rational decision-making.

The BBB says there are steps you can take to protect yourself from being the victim of a scam, and we encourage you to take those steps. You can research more about a company at bbb.org, and always consider calling the Mississippi BBB at 601-398-1700 if you need any sort of help.