BBB investigates phishing


DAYTON — In 2023, phishing scam reports to BBB Scam TrackerSM nearly doubled, reaching a record high of over 9,000. Scammers appear to be adopting new technology and lean on text message-based scams to reel in new targets.

Since 2021, reports to Better Business Bureau show that scammers use phishing tactics in nearly every type of scam, including government impersonation, tech support and cryptocurrency fraud. In more recent reports, they are increasingly turning to SMS-based versions of these scams, sending messages meant to trick the public into clicking on links that prompt them to share personal information or download malicious software.

In “BBB® Investigation: BBB tallies record number of reports as scammers adopt new technologies ” BBB examines patterns of reports, reviews the amount of money lost and shares stories from those caught up in the scams so the public can avoid them.

Key findings:

• Scam Tracker reports totaled over 9,000 in 2023, nearly double the previous year and a record high.

• Reports in 2024 indicate another record year is likely incoming.

• Phishing, despite being one of the oldest and most well-known scam techniques, continues to be successful, because of its adaptability to various forms of communication.

• Phishing scams target both individuals and businesses, with business losses totaling in the billions over the last three years, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and supported by BBB Scam Tracker reports.

• Because phishing techniques change so often, it can be hard for the public and authorities to keep up with the ever-changing defenses needed.

Statistics (reported to BBB from 2021-2023):

• Phishing (email) – 8,346;

• Vishing (call and voicemail) – 7,416;

• Smishing (SMS) – 3,486;

• Pharming (malicious links) – 315;

• Business Email Compromise – 200

Scam survivor stories:

A Springfield woman said a man called her husband’s phone looking for her mother-in-law. The voicemail said “…This call is regarding case number 20240051878, this is NAME with the process server verification and we are making our final attempt to serve court documents to the property address attached to this phone record. The documents require a signature for proper service and delivery to someone over the age of 18…failure to communicate with the office will result in a penalty and fines under title 18 section 1501 willful evasion of service.” Knowing the caller’s claim was untrue, she did not return the call.

A West Carrollton woman also reported several calls. One caller left a voicemail not mentioning the company name but stating it was trying to reach her about a lawsuit and wanted her to call immediately. Another caller left a voicemail saying he was attempting to serve her to appear in court with charges against her social security number and she needed to return the call immediately to change the status of the lawsuit. Fortunately, she did not return either call as she believed they were scams.

Red flags in phishing scams:

• Claims about suspicious activity or fraudulent logins;

• Reaches out about unexpected problems with an account;

• Tries to confirm financial information;

• Requests to click a link to make a payment;

• Offers government refunds;

• Sends unasked for coupons;

• Uses generic message paired with logo of a well-known company;

• Speaks in typo-filled and urgent language;

• Pretends to be a known authority figure requesting a business payment

Visit to check out a business or register a complaint, BBB Scam TrackerSM to report a scam and for more on this and other scams.

The Better Business Bureau has empowered people to find businesses, brands and charities they can trust for over 110 years. In 2023, people turned to BBB more than 218 million times for BBB Business Profiles on 5.3 million businesses, and 80,000 times for BBB charity reports on about 12,000 charities, for free at Regional, independent BBBs can be found across the United States and Canada. including BBB Serving Dayton and the Miami Valley, which was founded in 1925 and serves Clark, Darke, Greene, Miami, Montgomery, Preble, Shelby and northern Warren counties in Ohio.

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