Data & Research

As a non-partisan, neutral organization, BBB Institute is able to produce research that provides fresh insights into the scam landscape. Using data pulled from BBB Scam Tracker and other sources, we provide fresh insights by identifying the latest tactics used by scammers, creating data-driven consumer and business education materials and programs, and sharing our findings with law enforcement. 

  • Timely, crowd-sourced data.
  • Reports verified by local BBBs.
  • Neutral, non-partisan organization.
  • Insights translated into consumer education and awareness programs.
  • Findings shared with law enforcement.

Research Collaborations

BBB Institute partners with universities and organizations to research marketplace trends using BBB data provided by consumers and small business owners.
Learn more about collaboration opportunities.

Published Reports:

2021 BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report 
The report uses data submitted by consumers to BBB Scam Tracker to shed light on how scams are being perpetrated, who is being targeted, which scams have the greatest impact and much more.  The BBB Risk Index helps us better understand which scams pose the highest risk by looking at three factors: exposure, susceptibility, and monetary loss.  

2021 Online Purchase Scams Report
Seeks to better understand the impact of online purchase scams and how people can find trusted online sources to make better buying decisions. 

 

Exposed to Scams: Can Challenging Consumers’ Beliefs Protect them from Fraud?, a collaboration between BBB Institute, the FINRA Foundation, and the University of Minnesota, is based on in-depth, in-person interviews with 17 people and two scammers sharing their experiences with fraud attempts and explores four mental frames — or default ways of thinking about the world — that appeared to play a role in the way the interviewees perceived fraud attempts and whether they lost money to scams.

The BBB Impact Report seeks to measure BBB’s performance in building and advancing a better, more trustworthy marketplace for all. BBB Institute and IABBB used feedback collected from our stakeholders—including partners, businesses, and consumers—to help us track our progress and our impact.  

 

Our BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report (2020) provides groundbreaking insights built from BBB Scam Tracker data. The Risk Report was the first research report to introduce the Risk Index, a new three-dimensional measure of scam risk based on exposure, susceptibility and monetary loss. 

2016 Report         2017 Report        2018 Report        2019 Report

Online Purchase Scams Report (2020)
Online purchase Scams have ranked among the riskiest scams for the past three years.  Additional research was conducted to better understand how online purchase scams are being perpetrated, who is being targeted, the overall impact of these scams, and how we can help people avoid losing money to them. 

 

Employment Scams Report (2020)
The 2019 BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report found that employment scams were the riskiest scams for both 2018 and 2019. Additional research was conducted to better understand how employments scams are being perpetrated, who is being targeted, the overall impact of these scams, and how we can help people avoid losing money to them. 

 

Exposed to Scams: What Separates Victims from Non-Victims? (2019)
To better understand the fraud victimization process and craft better interventions to reduce fraud, BBB Institute collaborated with the FINRA Foundation, Stanford Center on Longevity and Federal Trade Commission to explore the cognitive, behavioral and attitudinal differences between victims and non-victims.


Military Consumers & Marketplace Trust: An Analysis of Marketplace Challenges Facing the Military Community
 (2019)
This examines the tens of thousands of business complaints and scams reported to the BBB in 2018 by military consumers to analyze service members, veterans, and military families' unique pain points when engaging with businesses.

Cracking the Invulnerability Illusion: Stereotypes, Optimism Bias, and the Way Forward for Marketplace Scam Education (2016) 
In our seminal study, BBB Institute surveyed consumers in the United States and Canada to identify the stereotypes and misperceptions around scam victimization that are a barrier to effective outreach to at-risk populations. 

Scams and Your Small Business (2018)
In this 2018 research project with the Council of Better Business Bureaus, we used survey data and Scam Tracker data to provide insights on scams targeting small businesses. 




Key Findings

  • Riskiest scams of 2020: Online Purchase Scams, Employment Scams, Fake Check/Money Order Scams, Advance Fee Loan Scams, and Home Improvement Scams. (Source: 2020 BBB Scam TrackerSM Risk Report)
  • 2020 riskiest scams for ages 18-54, students, and veterans: Online Purchase Scams (Source: 2020 BBB Scam TrackerSM Risk Report)
  • 2020 riskiest scams for military spouses: Employment Scams (Source: 2020 BBB Scam TrackerSM Risk Report)
  • 2020 riskiest scams for service members: Online Purchase Scams (Source: 2020 BBB Scam TrackerSM Risk Report)
  • 2020 most impersonated organization: Social Security Administration (Source: 2020 BBB Scam TrackerSM Risk Report)
  • Top misperception: Contrary to widely held beliefs, younger consumers, rather than older adults, are most likely to have been scammed. Seniors, on the other hand, are more likely to lose more money. (Source: Cracking the Invulnerability Illusion: Stereotypes, Optimism Bias, and the Way Forward for Marketplace Scam Education)
  • Top Riskiest Scam Targeted at Small Businesses: Bank/Credit Card Imposter Scams, followed by Directory Listing and Advertising Scams and Fake Invoice/Supplier Bill Scams. (Source: Scams and Your Small Business Report)

 

For additional information about specific scam types, check out the reports created by the BBB International Investigations Committee. These scam studies were conducted to give consumers and businesses a more in-depth understanding of how each specific scam works. Specifically, how scammers use social engineering and play on emotions to trick their victims.