By Steve Summers and Kevin Haas
Rock River Current
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ROCKFORD — The two-year coronavirus pandemic has created a steady stream of new scams trying to separate you from your money and personal information, according the head of the local branch of the Better Business Bureau.

From pop-up testing sites that rip people off, to counterfeit masks, counterfeit vaccine cards and other methods, the pandemic has created new reasons for consumers to be wary, said Dennis Horton, director of the Rockford Regional Office of the Better Business Bureau.

“Since the pandemic hit, we’ve had nothing but a steady stream, a river I should say, of pandemic scams,” he said on This Week in the Stateline. “We’ve taken to calling them scam variants because there are so many of them.”

Related: Better Business Bureau warns of travel scams

The most common scam revolves around online purchasing, with phishing tactics seeking personal information being the second most common, he said.

“There’s always something new,” he said. “I’m frequently amazed at the brilliance of these con-artists and crooks.”

Latest warning

Last week, Horton’s office issued a warning surrounding quizzes on Facebook and other social media. Those quizzes can ask personal questions like “what high school did you attend” and “what is your mother’s maiden name” — the same type of questions you may use to protect bank accounts and other crucial data.

“I’m not saying all the quizzes you find on Facebook are data collection scams, but that’s how they begin,” Horton said. “They’re collecting this information and they can now build a profile about you and, frankly, steal your identity.”

He said always take a skeptical approach to anything asking for personal information online, and keep strong passwords.

“We’re telling people way too much about ourselves while we’re online,” Horton said.

Lastly, don’t be embarrassed if you are conned. Contact the Better Business Bureau for help if you’re the victim of a scam, he said. 

Listen to the full interview below:

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