The Better Business Bureau has released its annual list of the top scams that targeted victims in 2018 and says Canadians lost over $121M to fraudsters last year.

The consumer watchdog group says the figure is double the amount that was lost in 2015, but it found that only about five percent of victims reported incidents.

Mary O’Sullivan, president and CEO of the BBB in southern Alberta, says scammers are targeting a different audience in their schemes too.

“Scams are evolving; they are more aggressive, devastating, convincing and there is now a scam for everyone. Scammers are bolder than ever, which is why we need to keep informed and take proactive steps to protect our information and finances,” she says in a release.

The BBB says the top 10 scams in 2018 are:

  • Romance scams
  • Income tax extortion scams
  • Online purchase scams
  • Employment scams
  • Phishing
  • Subscription scams
  • Advance fee loans
  • Tech support scams
  • Home improvement scams
  • Bank investigator scams

According to statistics from the Alberta RCMP, there were over 11,000 reports of fraud within their jurisdiction in 2018.

They say that impersonation and identity-related incidents accounted for 14 percent of all reported frauds.

Authorities are also offering the following tips to help protect yourself and recognize fraud:

  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
  • Ignore communication from unknown contacts
  • Purchase items from reputable organizations
  • Never send money on a dating site
  • Regularly monitor credit card statements for unknown changes
  • Research organizations through resources available through the BBB
  • Never leave personal information in a vulnerable location such as your vehicle

If you believe you are a victim or have come across a business or advertisement that you believe could be illegal, you can report it directly to the BBB’s Scam Tracker.

You can also report it to your local police service and to the Canadian Anti-Centre online or by calling 1-888-495-8501.

March is Fraud Prevention Month and the BBB is also reminding everyone to take part in their annual BBB Password Day on March 15.

The event is a reminder to change the passwords for your top three online accounts to ensure there are not compromised by hackers.