BBB: Scammers use public documents, data breach information in cons

Listen to KID NewsRadio’s full interview with Jeremy Johnson, Marketplace Manager for the Better Business Bureau in the Northwest and Pacific Regions

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — Scammers are ramping up their game in the early weeks and months of 2019.

Since the beginning of the year, 48 Idahoans have reported scams on the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker. Last year, Idahoans reported 797 scams on the Scam Tracker and in January 2018, the BBB received 55 reports of scams.

View the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker, and submit a report if you think you’ve experienced a scam

BBB Scam Tracker℠ | Find and Report a Scam | Better Business Bureau

Spot a scam? Tell the BBB about it. Help the Better Business Bureau investigate scams and warn others. Report a scam or fraud, view scams reported by others.

While the majority of the reports in 2019 did not result in lost money, some individuals were less lucky and lost thousands of dollars in scenarios that included everything from employment scams to romance and online shopping cons. Jeremy Johnson, Marketplace Manager at the Better Business Bureau in the Northwest and Pacific regions, told KID NewsRadio scammers try to use unique tactics to more effectively con their next victim, including using personal information to make their scam more legitimate.

“One of the main ways that people are getting your information and your phone number a lot of times is the data breaches that we unfortunately continue to see broadcast on the news daily between Facebook and stores, and the latest, you know, just a couple months ago, Marriott got breached,” Jeremy Johnson, Marketplace Manager at the Better Business Bureau in the Northwest and Pacific regions, told KID NewsRadio. “So, a lot of times that information is just getting breached and as many data breaches as there is, it’s very common that somehow you’ve probably been a victim of one of them.”

Data breaches are not the only way scammers get information on potential victims. Public records are full of information for scammers and completely legal to obtain.

“Federal, state, county, city, there’s all these public records that have a lot of your information and it’s 100% legal for them to get them,” Johnson said. “Any type of public record can be accessed legally and they know that, and so that’s a great way for them to get your information as well.”

People aren’t completely defenseless against these kinds of tactics though. Johnson said developing a habit of protecting and guarding personal details is a great strategy to combat future scams.

“Guard your information like it’s money,” Johnson said. “Like you would guard, you know, dollar bills in your wallet. You definitely want to watch out for any way that you can give less information. If you’re signing up for, you know, a store credit card or any type of thing where you’re giving out your information, try to hold back as much information as possible. You definitely want to protect what you have.”

Even phone calls with strangers should be guarded conversations, Johnson said, since scammers use something as simple as the sounds in the background to build a stronger con.

“If someone calls you and you’re a little unsure about the information they have, just hang up and call your phone company yourself,” Johnson said. “One thing we have seen is when scammers do call and you’re picking up the phone, they’re immediately listening and scanning for more information to use on you. Whether they hear a child crying in the background, they may know that that opens you up to a different scams, or they may hearing your voice that you’re elderly and that they could prey on you for those types of scams. So if it, any time you pick up the phone and you’re just not sure, the best thing to do is just to hang up.”

Want to discover more tips to protect yourself against scams? Visit the Better Business Bureaus’ website below.

BBB Scam Tips

Online Purchase Scams Online purchase scams often involve purchases and sales on eBay, Craigslist, Kijiji, and other direct seller-to-buyer sites. Be suspicious of checks and overpayments.