GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan is warning you of the most common types of scams from 2021, hoping to help you avoid losing your money.

The BBB on Tuesday released its list of the top three scams of the year. The most popular one was online purchase scams, in which crooks post something for sale online, get your money and then never deliver. Cute pets that don’t exist are often used as bait. Scammers will sometimes create completely bogus websites for breeders that are populated with photos found elsewhere online.

“The No. 1 type of online purchase scam was the pet scams, the puppy scams,” BBB spokesperson Katie Grevious told News 8. “The biggest tip we can give you is to stop and think about what you’re doing and do your homework.”

The BBB says you should see the pet in person before you give anyone money.

Phishing scams were the second most common type of rip-off. Scammers will pretend to be a legitimate company — often a big name like Amazon — and send you an email or call you telling you there’s some problem that needs to get resolved. They’ll ask your information or for payment in the form of gift cards.

Tied for third place were sweepstakes and lottery scams and employment scams. In sweepstakes scams, you’ll get a phone call, email or letter saying you won a prize, but that you have to pay a fee or give your bank information to get it.

“You should never have to pay money to receive money,” Grevious said.

Employment scams seem to offer an attractive job but scammers are really just trying to get your personal information.

To avoid getting taken advantage of, remember the golden rule: If it seems too good to be true, it is.

Don’t ever give a stranger your personal information over the phone and don’t click on links that you’re not familiar with or weren’t expecting.

“The biggest advice we give people is when you get those emails, stop and think first: Did you actually shop at that place? Did you make a purchase?” Grevious warned.

If you get an alert that one of your accounts has been compromised, look up a number for the business or institution to call — don’t use one that shows up on a pop-up. No legitimate business will ask you to pay using prepaid gift cards.

Remember that if you didn’t enter a contest, you won’t win a prize. In the specific case of Publisher’s Clearing House, which scammers often pose as, you won’t get a letter telling you that you won; if you actually do, somebody will show up at your door with a giant check.

Be suspicious of job offers from people you don’t know.

“If you’re going to apply for a job and you look on a third-party site like an Indeed or something like that, make sure you go to the actual company’s website and make sure that that job listing is there as well,” Grevious advised.

If you think you’ve been scammed, you can report it to the BBB at