(WETM) – In the last month, there have been multiple reports of scams targeting different groups across New York and Pennsylvania. These types of scams cost Americans billions of dollars every year, says the Federal Trade Commission.

Scams target groups like the elderly, students, teens, and even veterans. The FTC says that in 2021, it received almost six million reports of fraud, identity thefts, and complaints about businesses. In total, these cost Americans more than $5.8 billion, a more than 70% increase in losses compared to 2020.

Scammers will often present you with a problem or a prize. In the ever-growing “Grandparent scams”, scammers target the elderly by claiming to be a relative that’s in an emergency. In the prize scenario, they may also claim that the victim has won the lottery or a free trip, such as the recent Disney theme park scam reported by the Elmira Police Department.

The FTC and Better Business Bureau also say that the scammer will often pressure you to act quickly, keep it secret from family, and pay in a specific way. Multiple local law enforcement agencies have also reported a rise in gift card scams in the last year.

The BBB, FTC, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and local law enforcement have all provided tips on how to avoid these scams. The tips boil down to being aware of your online transactions, taking a breath and talking with someone you trust, and being cautious of deposits, offers, or emails that seem too good to be true or that you don’t remember making.

With any scam in the Twin Tiers, Sheriff’s Offices and police departments remind residents not to give out personal information to someone they don’t know, don’t trust, or who they haven’t met face-to-face. They also say to check in with any family members who may be more susceptible to being taken advantage of.

If you do think you’ve been scammed, you can report it to the FTC, BBB, or your county’s sheriff’s office.