CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - As people continue to struggle financially during this pandemic, scammers are trying to capitalize on that by ripping you off.
WBTV spoke with the Better Business Bureau about the top three scams they’re seeing in the Charlotte area in September.
According to President of the Better Business Bureau Tom Bartholomy, “it’s off the charts, our activity is up 45 percent.”
To say it’s been busy would be an understatement. Crooks have been stealing your money in a number of ways starting with the government imposter scam.
“They pose as Small Business Administration and contact small businesses saying hey, you qualify for this loan, you need to pay some money up front or people with stimulus checks, hey your stimulus check is coming, we can expedite that for you, so it’s going to cost you $100.”
Scammers call or text posing as anyone from the IRS to the Social Security Administration.
In one case, Bartholomy says, a Charlotte area business lost over $12,000.
“Unfortunately, there are hundreds of people who have been taken in on these things.”
You’ll also want to watch out for a new Facebook scam where your “friends” are promoting phony COVID-19 relief grants.
“So you’re on Facebook and a friend of yours who you haven’t heard from in awhile pops in and says hey I just got this government grant for 5-thousand dollars, and it was easy as can be and here’s the link for you to do it too.”
Scammers are either hacking accounts or creating lookalike profiles by stealing your information.
“Scammers are having a higher success rate with getting people to take the bite on this because again they think this is your friend.”
Scammers are also calling and impersonating internet, cable TV, or electricity company representatives, claiming to offer a deal on your bill.
“They say for this special deal we’re not going to bill you, it’s not going to appear on your regular monthly bill, we need you to pay this, the first month of this, with a prepaid debit card. That should be the big red flag.”
With all of these scams, here’s his biggest advice:
“Any time that an offer comes to you, no matter the format – email, text, phone call, whatever -- you’ve got to step back from it, take a breath and call that government office, call the BBB.”
You can call or report a scam to the Better Business Bureau in the “scam tracker” portion of their website.