INDIANAPOLIS — The Better Business Bureau is sending a warning about cryptocurrency. A recent study points to a lack of regulations, as well as a lack of education, to explain an increase in fraud and financial losses.

The bureau cites reports that show $14 billion worth of crypto has been stolen. That’s just in 2021. The number of scam-tracker reports involving crypto has tripled since 2020.

The BBB says the most common types of scams are investment scams, and the more traditional scams asking victims for payment using bitcoin or other currencies. They say one easy way to protect yourself against scammers is to be fully aware of how cryptocurrency works before using it.

“There are a lot of folks that don’t understand crypto,” said Scott Barnhart with the Office of the Indiana Attorney General. “There are a lot of individuals that don’t understand the technology behind it, the blockchain technology. So from that standpoint, consumer education is key and is critical to address this issue to make sure that consumers are not taken advantage of.”

Here are some things to be mindful of regarding cryptocurrency.

  • If you’re buying something online, make sure the website is legitimate.
  • Only send crypto to people you know, and make sure you speak with them in person or over the phone to confirm someone hasn’t hacked their social media accounts.
  • Guaranteed returns on investment are nearly always indicators of scams.
  • Celebrity backing doesn’t make something legitimate. Always do your own research before investing.