New BBB Risk Index Identifies Most Dangerous Scams, and the Most Likely Victims

March 07, 2017

When we talk to consumers about scams, as we often do here at Better Business Bureau, we get a lot of requests for information about scams that happen online, or over the phone. Which makes sense considering virtually everything we do is online. But the BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust found that the riskiest scam in 2016 wasn’t happening online or even over the phone - it was happening in your very own home.

The BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust released its inaugural Risk Report, a report chock-full of information about scams and their victims based on information received in over 32,000 reports to the BBB Scam Tracker throughout 2016. 

By using the BBB Risk Index, home improvement scams proved riskiest for consumers. The Risk Index is a number calculated by multiplying the exposure, susceptibility, and monetary loss for a particular scam. 

As an example, a scam with a 6.3% exposure rate for any given consumer, 16.7% chance of people losing money to the scam, and an expected monetary loss of $671 would result in a Risk Index of 25.8:  

An Example of the Risk Index for an Employment Scam

Other highlights from the report:

  • Men were more vulnerable than women in 7 out of the top 10 categories.
  • Consumers between the ages of 18-24 were most likely to lose money to a scam.
  • The most common form of payment was by credit card, followed by debit cards, then wire transfers.
  • The IRS scam, which is often cited as the most common scam, did not make the top 10 list using the Risk Index calculation. This is primarily due to the fact that it had a low monetary loss - consumers aren't losing very much money to the scam.

Read or download the full report at

Click here for more information on how to avoid scams. If you are the victim of a scam, do not feel embarrassed. Help educate other consumers by reporting it to our Scam Tracker at


By Danielle Spang

Disclaimer: Views expressed on this Blog are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect the views of BBB Serving Northeast California.