New BBB scam tracker helps investigators, victims

New BBB scam tracker helps investigators, victims

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Lesia Harris' parents didn't raise a dummy.

She knew exactly what was going on when some guy with a heavy foreign accent called her to say the IRS was coming after her for $3,000 in back taxes.

"All he kept doing was start making threats: 'We're going to garnish your paycheck. We're going to freeze your bank account,'" Harris said.

Then came the dead-giveaway: he demanded her credit card number and her Social Security number.

"I said, 'No, I'm not giving you my Social Security number! You're the IRS! You have all that there!'" she laughed.

She turned the tables on the IRS impostor and reported the scam on the Better Business Bureau's Scam Tracker. Consumers can click on any location on the Scam Tracker's map and track other people's tell-alls of ripoffs happening in the same neighborhoods.

Click here to check out the BBB's scam tracker for yourself.

"We'll be able to help the public know what kind of scams are happening in their area, and they'll also know that they're not alone," Mid-South Better Business Bureau President Randy Hutchinson said. "They're not the only ones who have gotten these phone calls."

In its first two months, the Mid-South BBB's Scam Tracker logged 82 scam reports. Nineteen were the same IRS impostor scam Harris reported. Ten were debt collection scams. Nine were sweepstakes, lottery, and similar prize scams.

Hutchinson said the BBB would have had more difficulty following them without the victims coming forward and getting them on the Scam Tracker.

"It starts with local consumers letting us know what's happening in their neighborhoods and in their households," Hutchinson said.

Consumers' identities are protected on the Scam Tracker. For example, you can find Harris' clickable report of the IRS scam right on the map in West Memphis, Arkansas, but it does not list her name or address. Consumers who file a report on the Scam Tracker are given the option to consent to media requests.

There's no risk--only the reward of warning everyone online about the scams happening in their neck of the woods.

"If that will save one person from being swindled out of their hard-earned money, it was worth it," Harris said.

BBB'S TOP 10 SCAMS OF 2015:

  1. Tax/IRS Scams
  2. Debt Collection Scams
  3. Sweepstakes/Prizes/Gift Scams
  4. Tech Support Scams
  5. Government Grant Scams
  6. Advance Fee Loan Scams
  7. Credit Card Scams
  8. Work From Home Scams
  9. Fake Check/Money Order Scams
  10. Lottery Scams

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