For years, the Better Business Bureau has been alerting consumers that their neighborhoods might be under the watchful eye of scammers. They've warned of door-to-door sales scams, scammers posing as contractors, and even some trying to hawk tree trimming or tree removal services. Now, the Better Business Bureau has come up with an even better way to alert you about scams: a new online tool it calls the Scam Tracker.

This free interactive tool uses crowdsourcing to collect real-time information from victims of scams and consumers who have thwarted scams, then transfers the data to a heat map to show where scams are being reported across the United States and Canada.

You can search for or report scams using a variety of filters on the Scam Tracker:

  • By keyword. Typing in a keyword such as “lottery" generates a report showing the national results for that word. The interactive map in the Scam Tracker then allows you to narrow your search to a particular city or region to find out where the most lottery scams are taking place.
  • By type of scam. An alphabetized drop-down list in the Scam Tracker lets you choose among over 30 common scams, from debt collections to government grants, identity theft to IRS imposters, and from romance to tech support cons. 
  • By country. The Scam Tracker currently reports on scams in the U.S. and Canada; BBB Mexico is expected to join in the future.
  • By date. The “date reported” field allows you to see which scams are most prevalent at any specific point in time. For example, lottery scams have been especially popular during the past week. 

Consumers can also report scams that they hear about, whether or not they are victims.

In addition to alerting consumers, the Scam Tracker reports are sent to the National Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance for analysis and collaboration with law enforcement agencies to help prosecute scammers in the U.S. and overseas.

“Scammers use technology to defraud,” says Mary E. Power, president and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. “BBB is using technology to stop them.”