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Phishing scams worse than ever: This is what to watch out for

BBB says complaints have doubled in a year as more Americans report scam phone calls.
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Posted at 7:29 AM, Jun 12, 2024

Every text notification, every ding from your computer and every unexpected phone call could be a scammer trying to get personal information or money out of you. Now, more and more people are coming forward to report fraud, with reports of phishing scams doubling in the past year.

Barbara Rupp says she's aware of text and email scams. Yet when her phone's Caller ID showed her cable company calling, she listened.

"They were teaming up with Target, and they were offering a discount," she said.

Rupp says she was told she could slash her cable bill by $50 a month.

"It was for internet and phone," she said.

It sounded legit until the caller told her she would have to buy a Target gift card, and read him the numbers, to start the deal.

"That's when bells and whistles went off," she said.

Good thing. It was all a scam.

Last year, the Better Business Bureau's Scam Tracker received more than 9,000 reports of phishing scams. That's nearly double the previous year's record.

"Even if you don't lose money, it's so important to report a scam," the BBB's Melanie McGovern said.

The BBB says, "Any attempt by scammers to convince an individual or company to reveal personal information is a phishing attack."

The methods include emails, voice calls and, increasingly, text messages, as more scammers utilize artificial intelligence to craft messages.

"Most of us have 900 emails not open on our phones," McGovern said. "But when you get a text message, the urge to open it quickly is there."

And that is where many people get scammed.

McGovern said you should immediately slow down if you receive a message that puts you into panic mode, such as one that appears to be from your bank. She says to look for red flags like:

  • "Unexpected issues" with your account
  • Links to make a payment to fix a problem
  • Alerts you didn't sign up for
  • Typo-filled and urgent language

Moving forward, Rupp says she'll be suspicious of all texts, calls and emails she didn't initiate.
"I don't want to see this happen to somebody and for them to lose money," she said.

And that way you don't waste your money.

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