In 2022, Coastal Bend-area consumers and businesses reported multiple scams to BBB, totaling $30,000 lost for the year. Across Texas, BBB received an average of 250 scam reports per month totaling $1.9 million lost for the year. While the tactics of scammers often shift to take advantage of marketplace trends, online shopping, employment and phishing scams are the most common types of scams reported to BBB from Texas residents, accounting for 49% of all scams submitted to the organization for the year.
To help Coastal Bend-area residents avoid scams in 2023, BBB analyzed scam reports submitted by consumers with local zip codes to determine the top five prevailing scams in 2022 and provides a few tips on how to avoid them moving into the new year.
Share of reports: 22%
Amount lost: $9,795
Online purchase scams in Coastal Bend vary across a wide range of products, with some consumers losing over $1,000 on a single interaction. Online pet scams are particularly impactful in the area, with residents encountering fraudulent sellers when attempting to purchase Dachshunds, Corgis and Goldendoodles. In most cases, buyers are directed to send payment through an online payment system such as Zelle or PayPal. Other items residents attempted to purchase include ammunition, clothes and automotive parts.
To avoid online purchase scams, BBB recommends:
Share of reports: 12%
Amount lost: $4,950
Employment scams often impersonate well-known and reputable businesses when contacting their victims. While these scams do not often result in a loss of money, the sensitive information provided to a potential employer places the applicant at an increased risk of experiencing identity theft. Scammers often entice applicants for the position by offering high wages, flexible hours and remote working opportunities. They often claim they will pay for the applicant to purchase materials to set up their home office or other work-related expenses. In the Coastal Bend area, most reports revolve around car wrap, package reshipment or clerical and data entry positions.
To avoid employment scams, BBB recommends:
Share of reports: 6%
Amount lost: $106
Recently, reports of sweepstakes, prize, and lottery scams revolve around supposed winners of Texas, national or other state lottery offering some of their winnings to strangers using ‘pay-it-forward’ messaging. To claim the winnings, the recipient is directed to a website where they input personal information so a check can be mailed to them. Other versions of this scam reported in the Coastal Bend area include free products, such as construction equipment or other gifts, in exchange for taking a survey, as well as free travel packages. Victims who provide money do so under the impression they are paying for taxes, processing, or other fees – something a legitimate sweepstakes company does not require.
To avoid sweepstakes, prize or lottery scams, BBB recommends:
Share of reports: 4%
Amount lost: $227
Fraudulent and unethical businesses often capitalize on the popularity of name-brand items by offering products similar in appearance or name. When the item is received, the buyer is often left with an item that is of significantly less quality than expected and may not even appear the same as what was pictured in the advertisement. Some of the most counterfeited brands include Nike, Beats, LEGO, NFL and Tiffany jewelry. One Coastal Bend resident reported receiving an obvious counterfeit item when attempting to purchase Seresto flea and tick collars online.
To avoid counterfeit products, BBB recommends:
Share of reports: 4%
Amount lost: $600
Phishing scams are one of the oldest and most adaptable strategies used to obtain sensitive information from businesses and consumers. Often, these manifest as emails or texts from someone claiming to represent the fraud prevention department for a well-known company such as Amazon, Netflix or your local bank or utility company. They will often direct you to a link or website to verify your account details, but in reality, that information is being collected for their own purposes. Phishing scams continue to become more sophisticated and often include look-alike websites that make detecting them even more challenging. In the Coastal Bend area, the most common businesses used in a phishing scam include USPS and local banks.
To avoid phishing scams, BBB recommends:
If you have been a victim of a scam, report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker. Information provided may prevent another person from falling victim and helps BBB educate the public about scam tactics.