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Echo Press Editorial: Steer clear of these top 10 scams

An old saying, "A fool and his money are soon parted," contains sage advice.

Don't be a fool. Be informed. Recognize a potential scam and steer clear of it.

A good way to do that is to know what you are up against — the devious tricks that con artists use in order to get at your hard-earned money.

Last week, the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) released a list of the Top Ten Scams of 2018 that were reported to BBB's Scam Tracker. Online purchasing scams had the most reports out of the more than 800 reports filed last year in Minnesota, followed by phishing and employment scams.

Employment scams topped off the list of the more than 50,000 scam reports published in the United States and Canada.

Most of the online purchasing scams involved a buyer ordering and paying for an item and never receiving it. These items include automobiles, pets, tickets, clothing, and cosmetics, according to the business bureau. The items are often found for sale on sites such as Craigslist, eBay, Facebook, and other direct seller-to-buyer sites.

Online purchasing scams came in at number two in 2017 in Minnesota.

Here, according to the BBB, are the top 10 scams of 2018 in Minnesota:

• Online Purchases

• Phishing

• Social Security and Tax/IRS Collection Schemes

• Employment Scams

• Tech Support Scams

• Debt Collection Scams

• Fake Checks/Money Orders

• Counterfeit Products

• Fake Invoices

• Identity Theft

Top 10 scams of 2018 in the United States/Canada:

• Employment Scams

• Online Purchases

• Fake Checks/Money Orders

• Home Improvement Scams

• Advanced Fee Loan

• Romance Scams

• Tech Support Scams

• Investment Scams

• Travel/Vacation Scams

• Government Grant Scams

The sheer number of scams out there is dizzying. The BBB Scam Tracker was launched in North America in 2015. Since that time, it has received nearly 150,000 reports of suspect offers, fraud or attempted fraud.

BBB staffers review all submissions to the site in order to watch for patterns of a problem and ensure the submissions are authentic. Reports that involve legitimate businesses are converted to complaints. Scam Tracker also gives people the ability to see where scams are occurring locally and nationally and allows them to search for fraudulent activity by keyword or within geographic regions.

Even if consumers or business owners don't fall victim to schemes they're confronted with, they're encouraged to file a report through BBB Scam Tracker. Data collected through these reports is compiled and shared with law enforcement who, with enough information, may be able to take steps to shut down fraudulent websites and illicit operations.

For the full report, go to BBB.org/RiskReport

To report a scam, go to BBB.org/ScamTracker

To learn more about different scam types, go to BBB.org/ScamTips