A new year means new ways for crooks to try to steal your money! NewsChannel 3 spoke with experts from the Better Business Bureau of the MidSouth about the top three scams to avoid in 2023.

Top 3 Scams to Avoid in 2023

#3-Tampered Gift Cards

According to the BBB, thieves are now printing their own bar codes and
placing them over the real ones. That means the money loaded onto gift cards,
goes into the scammer’s account instead of on the gift card purchased by the
consumer.

How to Avoid To Avoid It?

  • Check for damaged packaging
  • Get a gift card from the back of the pile
  • Ask for a gift receipt

#2-Student Loan Scams

It seems crooks are taking advantage of the confusion over the
government’s student loan forgiveness plan. Scammers are calling people
claiming they can help them get rid of their debt, for a fee of course! Some
are even using supposed robocalls with a voice that sounds like President Joe
Biden!

How to Avoid It?

The government’s forgiveness plan is still being sorted out in court, so ignore
calls from anyone claiming to be a government employee, who requests payment to
forgive student loans.

#1-Virtual Kidnapping

If the name itself sounds scary, that’s because it can be, says Daniel Irwin, Director of Public Relations and Outreach for the BBB of the Midsouth. Irwin said their office got eight reports of virtual kidnapping in 2022 and they expect that number will rise this year. He says they’ve also heard one of the calls and it truly is frightening.

Irwin speaks with NewsChannel 3

“Essentially you get a phone call from somebody, and all you hear on the other end of the call is mommy, daddy, help me! And it’s a screaming sound. And eventually, you’ll get around to some
scary sounding person on the phone, will tell you everything that they’re going to do to your children if you don’t pay them immediately by Bitcoin or by some other form of payment, said Irwin.

Irwin says the FBI recently warned about virtual kidnapping. According to the experts, the scammers are foreign prisoners who cold call Americans hoping they’ll find a parent.

The thieves are also banking on the parent saying their child’s name, to
further play on their emotions.

Irwin says research shows one particular group of parents, especially, dads
seem to fall for it.

“Actually when we crunched the data nationwide, who this affects the most is
divorced parents. Now they’re not targeting divorced parents, because they have
no real way of knowing who’s divorced and who’s not. They’re cold calling
Americans. But it can be devastating, especially divorced fathers who may not
necessarily know where there kids are, you know, at every single moment or may
live out of state,” explained Irwin.

How to Avoid To Avoid It?

·        Don’t be fooled by calls with commotion and
screaming the background. It’s actually a red flag that the caller is a
scammer.

·        Another red flag is the fact that the crooks ask
for payment in the form of cryptocurrency.

Another scam making the rounds

According to Irwin, another scam to watch out for in 2023 is online purchase scams. He says online purchase scams made up 40 percent of all scams reported to the BBB last year.

How to Avoid It?

  • Beware of Scammer Grammar-Scammers often don’t use correct grammar. Look for misspellings, and things like phrases that are a bit off.
  • Other red flags–No physical address or phone number listed on websites, ripped off logos
  • Use a credit card instead of debit
  • Price compare

Consumers can review and report scams with the BBB’s Scam Tracker.