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Online scams rise 87% since 2015, phone scams down 42%, report says

Online scams have been on the rise since 2015, according to a report done by the Better Business Bureau. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Jenny Kane

Tactics used by scammers and fraudsters have changed dramatically during the past several years in Canada, according to a report done by the Better Business Bureau.

Scams being perpetrated online have risen by more than 87 per cent since 2015, while scams done by phone have dropped by around 42 per cent, according to the report.

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“The methods scammers use to target consumers have shifted significantly since BBB began collecting scam reports from the public in 2015,” said Melissa Lanning Trumpower, BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust’s executive director.

“The shift in scam tactics is driven by a range of factors such as the rise of social media, world events, and changes in consumer behaviour.”

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The new report, dubbed Start With Trust Online: BBB Online Scams Report, analyzes the changes in the scamming world atmosphere within the country.

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So far in 2022, the report said 55 per cent of scams done in the country are committed online, with 75 per cent of victims saying they lost money when targeted.

As the way scams are carried out has shifted, so too has the type of scam – shifting from fear-inducing schemes to ones of opportunity.

“‘Carrots’ appear to be riskier than ‘sticks,’ according to our survey research. About 70 per cent of respondents said they continued the online engagement because they hoped to gain something, sell something, or were curious to learn more,” BBB staff said in a release.

“That’s compared to 30 per cent who continued the engagement because they feared they’d lose something, were threatened, or they thought there was an urgent situation they needed to address.

“The scam type with a monetary loss most often reported beginning online was online purchase scams (89 per cent), followed by cryptocurrency scams (87 per cent), romance scams (85 per cent), investment scams (73 per cent), employment scams (68 per cent), and government grant scams (64 per cent).”

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The Better Business Bureau offered a number of prevention tips to help prevent Canadians from being scammed:

  • If the deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Be careful purchasing sought-after products.
  • Before you buy, do your research with a trusted source.
  • Avoid making quick purchases on social media.
  • Use secure and traceable transactions.
  • Choose your online payment system carefully.
  • Don’t believe everything you see.
  • Ask for verification and take time to do research with a trustworthy source.
  • Be skeptical about anyone who reaches out to you unsolicited.

The BBB said the report is based on two sets of data, with one being an analysis of more than 300,000 reports submitted to BBB between 2015 and 2022, and the other a survey conducted in July of 2022.

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