Personal Investor: 2016’s biggest scams
If you received a call this year from a stern voice claiming you owe the Canada Revenue Agency, and there will be dire consequences if you don’t pay up – you’re not alone.
Tax scams led the Better Business Bureau’s lists of scams by a wide margin in 2016 in both Canada and the U.S. They accounted for a quarter of all reported scams even though investigators traced the operation to Mumbai, India in September and shut it down.
Debt collection scams came in a distant second at eight per cent. It speaks volumes about the amount of consumer debt we have amassed as a society when a stranger knows more about our borrowing obligations than we do.
One recurring theme in 2016’s biggest scams is having to pay to receive a generous windfall. Demands for upfront payments to receive prizes or gifts takes third spot, government grants ranks sixth and advance fee loans rank eighth.
Online purchase scams take the fourth spot after failing to register in the top ten previously; reminding us to always be vigilant when making purchases online.
One of the more vile scams to make its way into the top ten is aimed at the growing ranks of the underemployed. Employment scams accounted for six per cent of complaints to the Better Business Bureau. The scammers offer employment once their targets pay for training and supplies – but there are no jobs.
Almost five per cent of complaints were related to tech support scams. The scammer pretends to be tech support for your system with the intention of getting access to valuable personal information like financials accounts.
Old scams will dwindle in 2017 but new scams will be born. Be careful out there.