HOUSTON – The pandemic has left many of us with extra time on the internet, and scammers have taken notice. A new report from the Federal Trade Commission reveals that American consumers were defrauded of nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars in 2021 by online scammers.
Viewer David McCrary knew better than to fall for an unsolicited text message suggesting he needed to act on a purchase he knew he hadn’t made.
“Honestly, I knew it was a scam,” he recalls, but the FTC report says a lot of consumers aren’t so lucky. He notes nearly 100,000 complaints last year from people who were approached on social media and other online platforms for expensive purchases and connections.
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Online fraud is costing consumers an estimated $770 million and the losses are only growing.
“People tend to just blindly click on links online without really stopping to check and thinking, ‘Is this a legitimate entity or not,’ says Leah Napoliello of the Better Business Bureau.
Online shopping on social media was the biggest culprit where people were buying something that never happened.
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A recent Facebook ad for overloaded and returned tool cabinets is the kind of thing that raises questions, where products valued at hundreds of dollars are offered for much less. Although everything seems official, a quick Google search reveals that there are a lot of complaints and suspicions about what is being sold.
This is probably well-placed skepticism. Houston tech expert Juan Guevara Torres says creating a website and business profile is a simple process, ready to take advantage of unwitting consumers.
“In 24 hours, I was able to give the impression of a very nice company, which works very well,” he says.
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Despite our tendency to believe that these adverts are legit, unless they are a company you know, it would be a good idea to pause and do some research on “who” they are and how they perform. .
Additional security tips include using a separate email address, and perhaps a disposable phone number, to separate the “real you” from a scammer if the business isn’t legitimate. .
These are easy steps that keep you from being a statistic.