Better Business Bureau has launched BBB Scam Tracker to provide consumers across North America with a place to report scams and fraud, and to warn others of malicious or suspicious activities. All 112 BBBs operating in Canada and the United States are now collecting information from consumers and processing data, which is shared with law enforcement agencies for use in identifying and prosecuting scammers.“BBB helps consumers connect with businesses they trust, and warns them about dishonest practices,” said Mary E. Power, president and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB). “BBB has always been able to track specific information about businesses as part of the complaint process, and that procedure continues to evolve and grow, with nearly five million BBB Business Reviews. Scammers are different – they hone their techniques as they leave a trail of victims. As a crowdsourced tool with a human touch, BBB Scam Tracker exposes their fraudulent activity in real time.”
The free interactive online tool – found at bbb.org/scamtracker – offers a heat map showing where scams are being reported. Users can search using a variety of filters to see what scams are happening in their area, or track a particular type of scam, or even see how much money has been lost. Users can also report scams that they hear about, whether or not they have fallen victim.
BBB processes nearly a million complaints a year against legitimate businesses, but perpetrators of scams are not interested in resolving matters… even if they could be located. The data collection process for BBB Scam Tracker was designed to generate information that can be useful to law enforcement. Scam reports are being sent to the National Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance (NCFTA) for analysis and collaboration with law enforcement to help stop the most flagrant scammers through prosecution and other legal means. BBBs also routinely share information on scams with federal, state and provincial agencies, and local law enforcement, and will make the data available to agencies in other countries to help shut down scammers based overseas.
In addition, BBB Scam Tracker reports will also prompt BBB tips and alerts, or serve as the basis for investigations, news releases, warnings, and trends analysis. BBB Scam Tracker is of great interest to the media, and the intake form asks consumers if they are willing to speak to a reporter about their experience.
BBB Scam Tracker began in 2014 as an innovative test among nine local BBBs. A grant from Target Corporation enabled CBBB to expand the service to all BBBs in Canada and the U.S. BBB Mexico is expected to join in the future.
In 2012, two local BBBs – one in Edmonton, Alberta, and one in Las Vegas, Nevada – were credited with helping bring down Jesse Willms, the notorious fraudster who bilked more than four million people. Power concluded, “Scammers use technology to defraud; BBB is using technology to stop them. This is one very significant case among thousands, and we were glad we could assist. Now that we have BBB Scam Tracker, we will be able to assist even more effectively.”
ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2014, people turned to BBB more than 165 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 4.7 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for 113 local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as home to its national programs on dispute resolution, advertising review, and industry self-regulation.