ST. LOUIS – “Phishing really is a pretty widespread scam,” Better Business Bureau investigator Brian Edwards said.

According to Edwards, the list of scam victims has widened over the last two years. The BBB Scam Tracker received more than 9,000 phishing reports in 2023, nearly double the previous year, and a record high.

“Getting texts on your phone, asking you to click on links and things like that. It really seems to be driving a lot of the numbers,” Edwards said. “We’re seeing with this big jump from 2022 to 2023, as well as some high numbers in 2024.”

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Edwards said scammers are increasingly targeting their victims through text messages.

“We tend to mostly send texts between friends, family, people we’re closer with, so people’s guards are down a little more and that’s a big reason, we believe, why people are more susceptible to them really,” he said.

Even if the sender seems familiar, people should be wary.

“Scammers are all the time impersonating people; they’re taking over their legitimate accounts even. Really watching for links is the key, because some of these scams, once you click on them, they can install malware and things on your computer, and you can be in trouble from that moment on,” Edwards said.

He warns that scammers are using technology to better conceal their criminal intent.

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“Some of these scammers appear to be turning towards tools that use malicious AI essentially to craft more convincing messages,” Edwards said.

He reminds us that thinking before clicking can go a long way in preventing us from being phishing scam victims.

“Stop and think a second before you are giving away any personal information, bank account information, Social Security number, even address and things like that, which could then be used to get into other more sensitive accounts,” Edwards said.