COLORADO SPRINGS — In 2020, tens of thousands of complaints were sent to the Better Business Bureau's Scam Tracker. Working with consumer protection experts, News5 now has the data to help us understand what the organization has identified as the riskiest scam out there right now.
More than a million people visited the Better Business Bureau's Scam Tracker website last year and as a sign of the times more than half of the people who filed scam reports say they were buying more things online because of the pandemic.
As a result, the Scam Tracker data from 2020 identified online purchase scams as the riskiest scam going right now. Online purchase scam reports made up 38% of the overall BBB scam tracker reports last year. Most victims were ages 18 to 54 losing on average $96 in each of these reports.
Adah Rodriguez from the BBB of Southern Colorado says online consumers are often making the same mistakes when they fall into this trap.
"These deals that pop up are often too good to be true and facilitated by scammers. Individuals are either getting a product that is nothing close to what was described and their paying money for it of course, or they are not receiving anything that's the other side of it. You go back to the website and the website is gone. There's no phone number to contact the individuals who supposedly shipped this and consumers feel often pretty stuck. There's not a whole lot you can do," Rodriguez told News5.
Ilamarie Wolusky lives in Calhan and was one of the people who filed a scam report when she made a purchase from a Facebook ad and never got the item.
"This would be a very common item that lots of people would want. It's just an adapter that plugs right into your existing faucet and rotates and pans the whole sink to make it easier for cleaning," said Wolusky. "Knowing that so many other people are going through it, it actually makes it kind of worse because you realize how big the problem is and that it's just going unanswered."
She says she wishes more people would take the time to report scams to help put a stop to them.
"That's when I decided to report it because we as individuals we tend to think well this is just happening to me and I realized this was happening to a lot of people and unless we come forward and make a stand this is just going to continue happening," said Wolusky.
Overall the BBB Scam Tracker received more than 46,000 various scam reports in 2020. People lost money in almost half of the cases, losing an average of $115 dollars.
When it comes to online purchase scams the best advice is to do your homework on the seller before buying anything.
If you visit the BBB Scam Tracker you can search any business to see what other people are saying about it and if it is tied to any reported scams.