This is the number one scam in America

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This is the number one scam in America

Americans reported one scam every 11 minutes on average, according to the 2017 Better Business Bureau (BBB) Scam Tracker Annual Risk Report.

The annual report analyzes the riskiest scams based on exposure, susceptibility and monetary loss. In 2017, Americans reported more than 47,000 scams to the BBB Scam Tracker, which was a 46% increase over the previous year. And that’s just what’s reported.

An FTC study indicates that less than 10% of fraud victims actually complain to law enforcement or to the BBB. In addition, research from Nielsen Inc. estimates that for every complaint or report the BBB receives, there are at least 50 more cases of serious consumer dissatisfaction that never reach the BBB.

Americans reported more than 47,000 scams in 2017, an increase of 46% percent over the previous year.

The number one scam is...

Online purchase scams are now the riskiest consumer fraud type, according to the BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust. Online purchase scams jumped from the fourth-riskiest scam to the top spot, likely due to the overall increase in online shopping activity.

The latest data noted that home improvement scams dropped from being ranked first in 2016 to being the sixth-riskiest scam. This was despite a number of natural disasters last year that brought out storm chaser scammers who traditionally try to take advantage of distressed people.

The BBB also found tax-collection scam reports decreased 60%, perhaps due to the arrest of a network call center ringleader in India believed to be responsible for the bulk of IRS scams in 2016.

Top 10 riskiest scams in 2017

The BBB noted that even though the total number of scams reported increased 46%, the overall susceptibility decreased. Americans lost less money to scams in 2017 — 15.8% were out cash compared to 18.8% in 2016. The average scam loss in 2017 was $228. While there are a lot of old school scams that just won't go away, these are the ones that were reportedly most common.

How 2017 scams stacked up
Type of Scam 2017 Ranking 2016 Ranking Change in Rank
Online Purchase Scams 1 4 +3
Investment Scams 2 6 +4
Employment Scams 3 3 0
Advance Fee Loan Scams 4 5 +1
Fake Check Scams 5 2 -3
Home Improvement Scams 6 1 -5
Tech Support Scams 7 8 +1
Travel/Vacation Scams 8 12 +4
Family/Friend Emergency Scams 9 9 0
Government Grant Scams 10 11 +1

How the BBB determines risk in their report

The BBB determines what scams are riskiest by calculating:

  • Exposure: The likelihood a consumer will to be targeted by a specific scam
  • Susceptibility: The odds money is lost when exposed to a scam
  • Monetary: How much money will likely be lost if you do lose money from a scam

Scammers and thieves are always adjusting their tactics, so it's important to stay aware. These tips on how to protect yourself from identity theft can help.

This piece originally appeared on Experian.

Image: PeopleImages