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Facebook Marketplace, Zelle Scams Are Fastest-Growing Scams

BeenVerified’s analysis of more than 165,000 phone scam complaints reveals the most common consumer phone scams as well as the fastest-growing scams of the year.

Received a text or call this year claiming there was a problem with an Amazon order? Or how about claims of fraudulent activity on an online account? Scammers have taken on new tactics and strategies to target consumers this year, and while business imposter scams remain the No.1 phone or text scam in America, other scams have quickly entered the scene, according to the latest analysis from BeenVerified.

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“Scams that show fast growth are worth our attention, as they often become scams that dominate in years to come,” said Robert Lowry, the vice president of security at BeenVerified.

A multitude of new and old scam angles were reported, among them ones targeting peer-to-peer payment services and other platforms connecting users directly to one another. The fastest-growing scam types in 2022 were Facebook Marketplace (up 184.8% from 2021) and P-2-P cash transfer apps Zelle (86%) and PayPal (31.8%), as well as crypto and romance scammers that use the popular phone and text message app WhatsApp (32.1%) to target their victims.

BeenVerified examined tens of thousands of scam calls and text complaints over the course of the year. The analysis found that overall business imposter scams are the number one type of scam by volume (15.1%), followed by romance scams (14.3%), which showed an increase of 10% since 2021.

Fastest-growing scams in 2022

Rank Type of Scam Percentage change 2021-2022
1 Facebook Marketplace 184.8%
2 Zelle 86.0%
2 Tax/IRS 55.4%
4 WhatsApp 32.1%
5 Paypal 31.8%

As we head into the busy holiday shopping season, BeenVerified warns consumers to be careful of business imposter scams, which comprised 15.1% of all scam messages this year. Scammers impersonate legitimate businesses like Amazon, Apple and other name-brand companies to appear reputable to their target, only to then steal their personal or financial information.

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Top scam messages in 2022

Rank Type of Scam % of Comments
1 Business Imposter 15.1%
2 Romance 14.3%
2 Bank/Credit Card 10.3%
4 Debt/Loan 6.6%
5 Free Money 6.4%
How to help protect yourself from phone scams:

If a text, call, or email feels like it might be a scam, here are tips to help stay secure online:

Don’t respond to the message. Responding to messages alerts the scammer of a valid number and someone willing to talk—this can cause more attempts to solicit information. If a text or call is presumably legitimate, find the company’s support number and call them back directly.

Don’t click links. Links can be connected to malicious software, such as ransomware, spyware or a computer virus.

Don’t provide personal information. Any personal information, such as a birth date, credit card security code or even the last four digits of a Social Security number, could give scammers the last piece to the puzzle they need.

Don’t give someone remote access to your device. Never hand over control of a computer or device, unless the owner of the device initiated contact with the company.

Don’t pay with gift cards. A legitimate business will never ever ask a shopper to pay by gift card.

BeenVerified’s mission is to help people discover, understand and use public data in their everyday lives. BeenVerified and our associated websites curate dozens of public data sources and proprietary data sets to give people easy and affordable access to billions of public records.

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