Since the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in the United States in the spring of 2020, scams have been on the rise.
As a whole, we’ve spent more time online—working, shopping, and socializing—than we have ever before. With fewer interactions happening face to face, it’s much easier for folks with ill intentions to rob us of our identities, banking information, or money and get away before we’ve even realized what has happened. In fact, in 2021 alone, more than 1 in 3 reported scams were for online purchases, a major increase compared to years prior.
The Better Business Bureau published more than 46,000 scam reports in 2021—about 43% of which led to a monetary loss. Masquerading as trusted brands, potential romantic partners, and even family members, scammers conned a median of $169 out of their targets.
Using data from the BBB Scam Tracker Annual Risk Report, Stacker identified the most common and costly types of scams in 2021. Scams are ranked by the BBB risk index, which factors in a scam’s prevalence, the percentage of reports that lost money to that scam, and the median monetary loss. Since the last time Stacker published this report, two new categories—COVID-19 and cryptocurrency— have been added.
Most scams utilize the internet to rob people of their money, while others prey on your willingness to go to great lengths for those you love. Chillingly, some of the scams on our list, like home improvement scams, are the result of con artists traipsing through your home and potentially spending time around you and other family members.
Read on to find out which scams you might be most likely to fall prey to and to learn some helpful tips that can keep you from ever becoming a victim.