Minority communities more likely to be targeted by scams, report shows

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It’s a trend seen nationwide and in the Mid-South. People in minority communities are more likely to be targeted by scams, according to a new Federal Trade Commission report.

A spokesman with the Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South said minority communities are filing consumer complaints at a much higher rate than white communities, and the COVID pandemic is only making matters worse.

“Even sometimes when it seems too good to be true, people will think they’re already in this particular position, so why not try it?” Kenneth Lee of Memphis said.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. That’s why Lee believes more people are falling victim to scams during the pandemic.

“People are looking for a way out or away,” he said.

Daniel Irwin with the BBB of the Mid-South said since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been a huge uptick in scam reports, especially employment and fake loan scams.

He said these scammers usually go after people with low income and bad credit, and some are targeting minority groups.

“A lot of times, we will get a phone call from people that have been approached by a scammer specifically for loans, and part of the pitch is they’ve identified this loan specifically for people with bad credit or people in your zip code,” he said.

Additionally, Irwin said reports show minority groups are more likely to lose money in these scams and often have less financial protection.

He said credit cards offer the most protection, but they can be hard to come by if you don’t have good credit.

“They have to use prepaid cards; they have to use other things like PayPal and cash app and some of the money services you might just not have the protections of,” Irwin said.

When it comes to money, Irwin said do your research and don’t make decisions right away.

Lee said the old saying ‘if it’s too good to be true, it probably is’ holds true.

“If you don’t have to earn it, if it’s too easy, pass up on it because whatever money you have, whatever situation you’re in, you’re about to go down a little further,” Lee said.

If you believe you’ve fallen victim to a scam, report it to the BBB or your local police department.