Reports of scams to the Attorney General’s Consumer Assistance Program totaled 3,685 in 2022. In keeping with the previous year’s trend, a scam claiming that an unauthorized order was placed, or a package is pending delivery, sometimes naming Amazon, took the number one spot on the list, totaling 19 percent of the top scams reported to the Consumer Assistance Program. The computer tech support scam, where a scammer reaches out about concerning viruses or problems with antivirus services, took the number two spot, accounting for 18 percent of the top scam reports in 2022.
Imposter scams continue to appear among the top scams. The family emergency imposter scam notably climbed the list from number nine to number five in 2022. Within this category, the grandchild imposter scam, where a grandparent receives a call from a scammer claiming to be a distressed grandchild, resulted in 104 scam reports. In May, the Consumer Assistance Program issued a VT Scam Alert to warn Vermonters about the influx of this scam. Again in June, this category of scam gained attention due to scammers demanding cash be handed over to in-person couriers. In an effort to reduce the impact of this troubling scam, the Consumer Assistance Program produced the Avoiding the Family Emergency Scam video as part of the Imposter Scam Prevention Project education campaign.
The most significant development in 2022’s top 10 list was not the emergence of a new scam, but the disappearance of an old one. For the first time in four years, the Social Security phishing scam fell from the top 10 list. This scam, where you receive a phone call, often a robocall, stating there has been criminal or fraudulent activity involving your Social Security number, accounted for only 2 percent of the top scam reports in 2022. The year prior, it was the second most reported scam.
Potential causes for this drop – and an overall decrease in scam reports by 28 percent in 2022 from the previous year’s 5,154 reported – could be linked to an overall reduction in robocalls coming into Vermont.
YouMail’s Robocall Index shows that robocalls in Vermont decreased by 10 percent, or 5.5 million calls, from 2021 to 2022. At the same time, the Attorney General’s Robocall Enforcement Team targeted the Social Security phishing scam by suing TCA VOIP, a California-based telecommunications company that sent thousands – if not millions – of fraudulent robocalls to Vermont residents. The settlement, finalized in December, required TCA VOIP to close its doors and pay a $37,500 financial penalty.
“Scams affect us all – whether you’ve received an annoying scam call or text, been lied to by a scammer, or lost money to a scam. Together, we can fight scams by reporting them to the Consumer Assistance Program and spreading awareness within our communities. My office helps Vermonters through the Consumer Assistance Program, and we will continue to hold companies that profit from scams accountable,” said Attorney General Charity Clark.
The Consumer Assistance Program actively updates scam prevention resources and strategies and manages the CAP Connection blog, keeping Vermonters informed about important consumer issues.
All Vermonters can help join the fight against fraud by learning about scams, scam reporting, and sharing prevention strategies in community. To learn more about scams, go to our website: https://ago.vermont.gov/cap/scam-prevention-through-awareness-and-education.
The Top 10 Scams of 2022:
• Unauthorized Order/Package Delivery
• Computer Tech Support
• Law Enforcement Imposter
• Family Emergency Imposter
• Fake Websites/Online Listings
• Debt Collection
• Deceitful Solicitations
• Identity Theft
• Medicare Card Phishing
A complete overview of the top 10 scams, including how to spot them, is available here: https://ago.vermont.gov/sites/ago/files/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/Top%2010%20Scams%20of%202022%20Reported%20to%20CAP.pdf.