HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaii residents reported losing more than $200,000 to various scams in 2021 and 2022 is closing in on that number as well.

The Better Business Bureau announced a new tool to help consumers from falling victim on Thursday, Nov. 3.

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The BBB teamed up with Amazon and Capital One to give consumers a better handle on learning about and reporting scams.

“It’s much more intuitive and a step-by-step process to walk them through to search or even to report,” said Roseann Freitas, BBB Hawaii marketplace manager.

Folks who think a particular text message, email, phone call or website might be a scam can enter the phone number, web address or company name into the tracker to see if others have reported them.

“They’re fake, but they look real,” Freitas said, “and if you put that URL in there into that search engine, you’ll be able to pull it up and see if there are other reports based on that.”

“So they’re still gonna spoof the phone numbers, they’re still gonna do fake websites. What this does is give the consumer a tool to figure out if they are a scammer.”

Roseann Freitas, BBB Hawaii marketplace manager

Spoofing is when a scammer pretends to be legit by changing their caller ID to a number used by a real company. The BBB said getting strange calls from well-known businesses will not be so confusing by using the tracker.

“So being able to put that in the scam tracker and seeing if other reports are coming up, especially from that phone number, is going to be a very useful tool,” Freitas said.

The BBB said 183 Hawaii residents have reported losses in 2022, totaling $196,666. One former Wahiawa resident was one of them; She was looking to move to Washington and thought she found a legit roommate online. Rent was listed at $800 with a $500 deposit.

“Then they had sent me the lease and they told me I didn’t have to send the deposit until after I had read the lease and signed the lease,” said Alexis Watts.

“I did that, I sent her the $500 and she said, ‘Pleasure doing business with you, roomie.'”

Alexis Watts, rental scam victim / former Wahiawa resident

Watts learned no one lived in the building under the name she was given after she called the apartment complex.

Experts said the tracker is meant to educate consumers and advise all victims to take advantage of it.

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“We really advise, please report that. Because that is how we share information to other consumers to protect them,” Freitas said.