BBB: Money lost from scam reports doubles during pandemic

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A warning from the Better Business Bureau as scammers take advantage of the pandemic to get your money and your personal information.

In just the past few months, the BBB told FOX13 they’ve gotten almost 80 COVID-19 related scams in our area alone.

But that is just a snapshot of the hundreds of scams reported to the BBB during the pandemic costing people thousands of dollars.

Just like us, scammers are watching the pandemic closely.

“Whenever something new changes, there’s a new headline related to the coronavirus and there’s something new for the crooks to use to get you to buy into their scam,” said Nancy Crawford, BBB of the Mid-South.

The BBB of the Mid-South told FOX13 there have been 289 scams reported from March 1 to mid-July which is an almost 60 percent increase compared to the same time frame last year.

The BBB said the amount of money lost has doubled during the pandemic, from more than $23,000 last year to more than $55,000 this year.

“Scammers are after two things - your money and your information and your information is actually worth more to them than your money because with your information they can continue to scam you and continue to steal money in your name,” Crawford said.

The BBB also reported 79 scams related directly to COVID-19.

Crawford said these scams varied from government imposters to phony online purchase scams.

“Where websites pop up selling protective equipment, face masks, hand sanitizer, and they don’t deliver because they’re not really selling anything, they’re trying to steal your information and your money,” Crawford said.

She said these scams won’t stop anytime soon and they’ll most likely ramp up with the upcoming election

Crawford said any unsolicited messages are a red flag

“A text message, an email, a phone call that you are not expecting to get that’s an unsolicited message,” she said. “If it has a link don’t click on it, if it has a number don’t call the number back, don’t download any attachments.”

Another tip from the BBB, if you get a message or email that could be a scam, talk to someone you trust before you respond to it.

And if you have questions, you can call the BBB directly at 901-759-1300 or 800-222-8754 and even read about past scams on their scam tracker online.