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Scammers phishing more with texts and internet searches, less with email

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A Better Business Bureau investigation tallied a record number of reports

A recent Better Business Bureau investigation into phishing scams shows scammers are leaning on text message-based scams to pull in new targets. They are also using internet searches, moving away from the well documented email phishing scams.

“The main goal of all of these scams is again to get your money and your information but they’re just painting them different to adapt to our habits so we’re not as vigilant when we come across them.”

That’s Katie Grevious the Community Relations Manager for the BBB serving Western Michigan. Reports to the BBB scam tracker in 2023 nearly doubled-reaching a record high of more than nine thousand. Since 2021 reports to the BBB show scammers used phishing tactics in almost every type of scam. However, the most recent reports show scammers increasingly turning to SMS-based versions. The goal: sending messages meant to trick the public into clicking on links that prompt them to share personal information or download malicious software. Grievous says they’re tricking everyone from seniors to teenagers.

“They’ve heard about the email, but they didn’t know that the text message is just as vulnerable or that their internet search may not be the safest way to find information about a company. So it’s really important that we explain to people that this is still real you’re still being targeted and scammers are using everything in the book and even though it doesn’t seem like a lot of money, it adds up in the end.”

Grevious says recently, a Portage woman lost thousands of dollars in one of these scams. The BBB says phishing scams target both individuals and businesses, with business losses in the billions over the last three years. That from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, supported by Scam Tracker reports. Grievous says to avoid scams, avoid clicking on links in an unexpected email or text message. Don’t click or download or open anything from an anonymous sender and ignore calls for immediate action.

You can find more information or make a report at BBB.org.

Jennifer is an award winning broadcast news journalist with more than two decades of professional television news experience including the nation's fifth largest news market. She's worked as both news reporter and news anchor for television and radio in markets from Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo all the way to San Francisco, California.
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