BBB Scam Alert: Texas consumers report $9 million lost to scams in 2023
Posted 01/23/2024

In 2023, Texas residents' reports to BBB Scam Tracker detailing their experience interacting with malicious individuals and businesses resulted in $9 million in total losses, setting a record for monetary losses in the Lone Star State since BBB brought the interactive tool online in 2014. Annual losses have been trending slightly downwards since the previous record was set in 2019 ($2.9 million). However, 2023 saw a resurgence of scam activity and increased victim susceptibility (the likelihood of falling victim to a scam). Of the over 5,000 consumer reports submitted to BBB in 2023 from Texas residents, 45% indicated they lost money, and many others provided sensitive personal identifiable information (PII) to scammers, placing them at an increased risk of having their identity stolen.

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Viewed from a total perspective, online purchases, employment, and phishing scams were the top three most impactful marketplace challenges Texas residents encountered in 2023. Combined, losses to these three scams totaled $2.7 million (30% of total 2023 losses) and accounted for 70% of all reports submitted to BBB throughout the year. However, multiple other scams that consumers reported less frequently had consistently higher median losses. Among the top 10 scams based on median losses, only employment scams made the list at the 7th position. Neither online purchase (median loss of $76) nor phishing (median loss of $248) scams consistently resulted in large amounts of money lost. Still, the sheer number of interactions consumers have with these tactics makes them highly impactful.

Among all age groups, those between 18 and 24 had the highest median losses to scams at $205. 2023 marks the second year in a row this age group has ranked first in highest median losses, although the amount lost has decreased from its 2022 rate of $250. Investment and employment scams are two of the most influential marketplace challenges contributing to high median losses within the 18-24 age group. Among all age groups, the types of scams that result in the highest median losses vary greatly. A general consistency can be identified when comparing the type of scam and how most people within that age group interact with the market. For example, younger people seem to be affected by employment scams to a greater extent than those who are elderly. In contrast, home improvement scams involve older residents more than younger ones. Meanwhile, those in their middle years appear to be the most negatively affected by investment, healthcare, and bank impostors.

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Evaluating reports to BBB throughout 2023 provides a glimpse into consumer habits that place residents at an increased risk of experiencing monetary loss. One of the most significant influences on a victim’s ability to recover lost funds after interacting with a scammer is their payment method for the transaction. The riskiest payment method is through a wire transfer, which resulted in a median loss for 2023 of nearly $4,800, while the safest is a credit card, with a median loss of about $60. Scammers tend to encourage or demand their targets use payment methods that are either challenging or impossible to reverse, and BBB strongly recommends consumers exercise caution whenever they encounter someone who insists on payment through an unprotected method.

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Based on BBB’s findings focused on the top scams affecting Texas residents in 2023, consumers are encouraged to follow these guidelines as they interact with the marketplace in 2024:

Be aware of employment scam tactics. Rates of employment scams skyrocketed across the nation in 2023, with reports in Texas increasing by 178% from the previous year. Be wary of immediate job offers, rushed interview processes, fake checks, and impersonated companies. Ask deliberate questions about the hiring process, especially for remote positions, and be skeptical of high-paying, entry-level positions that seem too good to be true. Be very cautious of ‘package reshipment’ positions or variations of this type of work, as you could unwittingly involve yourself in a criminal enterprise

 

Heavily research investment and cryptocurrency opportunities. In many cases, investment and cryptocurrency scams result from an individual being directed toward the opportunity from someone they met online. Often, these include a romantic element. The scammer tries to position themselves as someone who deeply cares about the victim, which is the only reason they are showing them this opportunity. Other times, scammers try to distinguish themselves as a successful and knowledgeable source of information through social media platforms. These scams are highly sophisticated, and victims are often provided with a fabricated dashboard that indicates their initial investment is creating outstanding returns, encouraging them to invest more money until they eventually try to withdraw funds and are unable to do so. 

 

Understand your risks. Scams affect everyone regardless of age, but understanding what types of scams someone is most likely to encounter based on how they generally interact with the market is a great first step to avoiding them. For example, it is more critical for someone actively involved in the investment scene to understand how investment scams work than someone not, although con artists are well-versed in encouraging people to try something for the first time. Likewise, it is more important for someone in the job market to identify the red flags of an employment scam than someone approaching retirement. Taking an objective look at an individual’s shopping behaviors can also help. Do they engage more in online or in-store shopping? What shopping habits do they have to protect themselves from falling victim to a scam? Answering these questions can help a consumer evaluate their risk and encourage them to implement some internal processes to protect themselves. 

 

Avoid any unsolicited contact and verify using trusted methods. Every type of institution can be, and often is, impersonated by a scammer. Businesses, government, media, charities – scammers can leverage the trust and credibility of any organization for their schemes. In most cases, legitimate representatives will not share or request personal details about their customers over the phone or through email. Especially among government entities, numerous protection measures have recently been put in place to help stem the growing tide of impostors, and consumers are encouraged to take a minute to review these policies so they know how that entity will contact them. If an individual is contacted by someone who demands immediate action and threatens dire consequences, BBB recommends they remain calm and verify the situation by contacting the entity through a known, trusted method. 

 

For more information about the top scams affecting Texas residents in 2023 and within the Bryan-College Station community, contact your local BBB representative, Heather Massey.

 

To learn more about how to avoid some of the most common scams, visit BBB.org/Avoid Scams. If you or someone you know has encountered a scam or unethical business practice, please report it to BBB Scam Tracker. Information provided may help another person avoid falling victim. 

ABOUT BBB: The Better Business Bureau has empowered people to find businesses, brands and charities they can trust for over 110 years. In 2022, people turned to BBB more than 250 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.3 million businesses and Charity Reports on about 12,000 charities, all available for free at BBB.org. Local, independent BBBs can be found across the United States, Canada, and Mexico, including BBB serving the Heart of Texas which was founded in 1950 and serves 105 counties across Texas.

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Newcomer Guide
Chamber Directory & Map
These premier Chamber publications are widely distributed throughout Nacogdoches County and beyond!
© Copyright 2005-2024 Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce. All rights reserved.
2516 North St., Nacogdoches, Texas 75965 • (936) 560-5533
Unless otherwise noted, no part of this website may be reproduced without written permission.
Email us with questions or comments.