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Chicago and Northern Illinois' BBB Releases List Of Top Scams In 2017

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The Better Business Bureau said scammers used a different tactic most often last year to try and steal your money or identity.

The Chicago and Northern Illinois Better Business Bureau announced Thursday the 2017 list of top scams. Phishing scams topped the list, according to the Chicago and Northern Illinois Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker, knocking out the Tax Collection scam which has topped the list both locally and nationally for the past few years. WBBM's Nancy Harty has the details.

President and CEO Steve Bernas said phishing usually starts with an email or text from someone pretending to be someone else.

"You click this link and it is actually a malware or spam or someone trying to take advantage of you in some way through the computer by putting malware on your system," Bernas said.

The BBB advises to never click on links or open attachments from unsolicited emails, and never provide personal information without first verifying the source.

The second most common scam is the one where a caller asks, "can you hear me?" pretending to have an issue with their headset, then they record you saying 'yes' and use that to authorize purchases in the future.

"We think they are going to hold it against you down the road in terms of saying you agreed to some type of purchase," Bernas said.

But, he added, the scam is so new it is unclear what the scammers will do with the information.

The BBB scam tracker said fake websites, job offers, debt collection and tax collection are also among the most common scams. The top 10 list includes:

1. Phishing Emails/Texts - stealing money and information
2. Can You Hear Me - phone scam
3. Online Purchase - fake websites
4. Employment - job offer scams
5. Tax Collection - fake IRS or Treasury Dept. calls/emails
6. Debt Collections - invoices, calls or emails for fake debts
7. Tech Support - calls, texts or emails from fake tech support agents
8. Sweepstake/Lottery/Prizes - fake claims to steal money upfront
9. Travel/Vacations - too good to be true offers
10. Identity Theft - fraudulent activity using your personal information

The BBB encourages consumers to learn how to recognize scams and to avoid them by following 10 simple steps. And to always report scammers. If you've been the target of a scam or suspect scam activity, report it to authorities and BBB Scam Tracker to warn others.

"We are only as good as the information we receive so that's why it's so important for consumers to report any activity they suspect is fraudulent to BBB Scam Tracker, even if they themselves weren't scammed. We consider those who report to be citizen heroes because they are informing others and helping us to do the same. Knowledge is power and it's one of the most effective tools we have to help put a stop to scams," Bernas said.

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