BIRMINGHAM, AL - Alabamians reported over $560,000 collective dollars lost to scams in 2017 according to the Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker. The most commonly reported scams were online purchase scams, debt collection scams and employment scams. Most Common Scams:1. Online Purchase Scams (74 reports, $26,117 lost) – 74 Alabamians reported identifying online purchase scams last year. 49 of the 74 reported losing money in online purchase scams in 2017, and the average dollar amount loss per Alabamian was $533.00. Many Alabamians reported buying from websites that advertised lower than average prices on puppies, sports gear or cell phone accessories, but never delivered the goods. Almost all of them regretted not reading business reviews before deciding to make their purchases.2. Debt Collection Scams (53 reports, $5,760 lost) – 53 Alabamians identified debt collection scams last year. Victims reported being called by someone claiming to work for a loan company, law firm or government agency, attempting to collect an overdue payment. When the victim replied that they don’t owe money, the “debt collector” responded with threats of having them sued, having their wages garnished, or having them arrested. These types of scammers harass their victims for weeks or even months, both at home and at work, trying to get them to pay debts they don’t even owe.3. Employment Scams – (46 reports, $6,528 lost) 46 Alabamians identified employment scams last year. Many of the employment scams start by a fake company reaching out to victims via email or using a job posting site. Many of the victims will go on to work for the company, and when it comes time to collect their first paycheck, they either never receive it, or they get overpaid and are asked to wire back the difference via moneygram or western union. Once the victim sends back the difference, the original check bounces and the victim is out any money spent.Tips for a Scam-Free 2018: - Do your research. Read and compare reviews from bbb.org and other websites before handing over your sensitive information.- Know who is calling. Do not agree to anything over the phone without researching the person on the other line first. Remember that you cannot win a contest or sweepstakes you did not enter. Chances are you do not owe money to the IRS and no one is going to arrest you if you hang up. Threats or fast-talking sales callers should be red-flags to you that there is something sketchy about the business or charity.- Be wary of overpayments. If a company or individual overpays you for an item or a service and then asks you to wire back the difference, there is a strong possibility the check will bounce, and you will be out the money you wired and anything else you spent from the check. ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2016, people turned to BBB more than 167 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. Incorporated locally in 1954, BBB Serving Central & South Alabama serves over 4,100 accredited businesses in 50 counties with offices in Birmingham and Mobile. The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for the local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as home to its national programs on dispute resolution, advertising review, and industry self-regulation.