Columbus, OH (July 9, 2018) – Each year, one in four North American households are scammed. Because money loss and identity theft can happen to anyone, BBB encourages community members to protect and inform others by reporting any scam-related experiences to BBB’s Scam Tracker.

In June, Central Ohio consumers reported over $10,800.00 lost to scams.

BBB analyzed 55 Scam Tracker reports from June 2018 to shed a spotlight on four scams affecting our Central Ohio community:

1. Government Grant Scam: The most prevalent type of scam in June was the government grant scam. Scammers will contact consumers in a variety of ways, including phone, email or Facebook Messenger, telling them they qualify for a government grant. To receive the grant, the consumer must first pay a “fee”.

BBB wants consumers to know that The United States Government will not contact anyone directly for loans, or require that you pay any sort of fee to receive loans. If you receive a call stating you qualify for a government loan, simply hang up.

2. Fake Check Scam: A Zanesville, Ohio man reported losing $3,200.00 to a fake check scam. He received a check in the mail from someone pretending to be from Pioneer Title Co. They instructed him to deposit the check and send them a portion of the money back. He later found out that the check was fake, and now owes his bank the full amount.

If you receive a check that is written for more than you were supposed to be paid, this could be a red flag. BBB recommends that you never wire or send money or prepaid debit cards to someone you have never met.

3. Home Improvement Scam: A family in Columbus, Ohio reported losing $3,000.00 to a paving scam. They paid a company, but then the workers disappeared and never returned to do the job. The family has tried contacting them, but the business will not give them their money back.

A Lancaster, Ohio veteran lost $1,800.00 in a paving scam. The business came to his home, claiming they could make his driveway look brand new for only $2,300.00. He paid some money up front, but when the job was done, he could tell they only sprayed the driveway with a black coating, leaving all of the initial cracks and holes unfilled.

A door-to-door contractor may offer a very low price or a short time frame for completing the job while using high-pressure sales tactics. BBB encourages all homeowners to check with before agreeing to do business with any contractor moving through your neighborhood to avoid home improvement mishaps. It is also best to never pay in full upfront for services.

4. Identity Theft Scam: A man from Lancaster, Ohio lost $200.00 from his checking account. The money was spent outside of Ohio, somewhere he had never been before.

The scam was marked as Identity Theft, but could be classified as Credit Card Fraud as well. Losing card information can happen to anyone, but there are some precautions you can take to help better protect yourself. When you are out, only carry cards that you absolutely need. When you go to pay with a card, do not hold it clearly out in the open for a long period of time, and use your hand to cover up your PIN when typing it in.

Check your credit card and bank statements regularly to make sure there are no unauthorized charges. If you do notice something strange, contact your credit card company or bank immediately.

Consumers are encouraged to report scams to BBB Scam Tracker to help protect others in the Central Ohio community.

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