Consumer First Alert: BBB provides tips on avoiding fake websites, shopping scams

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BBB logo(Source: Better Business Bureau)
Published: Oct. 31, 2021 at 1:55 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 31, 2021 at 2:15 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - This holiday shopping season is going to be challenging- with supply chain issues causing shortages, it may be be difficult to find the popular items. And surprise, surprise - consumer experts are expecting scammers to sweep in with fake websites and merchandise.

“Conditions are really ripe for these online purchase scams to flourish, so we want to warn consumers if you see an online shopping site that you’re not familiar with - and it’s advertising a huge inventory of something you know to be sold out elsewhere - people really need to proceed with caution,” said Susan Bach of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Wisconsin. “Scammers are really aware of these supply chain issues, and they’re going to use it to their advantage.”

When asked if this will affect one particular category -such as toys - or if it will be for any kind of online purchase, Bach had this to add:

“It really does run the gamut. But, a few things in particular we know are high targets - if you’re shopping for a pet online, that’s considered to be very risky. 35% of all of our scam tracker reports were about pet related scams. And also, if you are shopping for designer merchandise, things like that, there’s a high rate of counterfeit goods being sold on these scam websites,” says Bach.

In addition, she had a few tips on how to avoid holiday shopping scams.

“Try to use sites that you’re familiar with. You know the Amazons, Targets, Walmarts of the world. If it is out of stock on those websites, you need to do a lot of research if you’re shopping on a site you’re not familiar with. Go to a place like to see what BBB has to say about it,” said Bach. “Make sure you use secure payment methods, like a credit card or Pay Pal, so you can dispute a fraudulent transaction. Most people who lose money use peer to per payment apps like Zelle or cash app, Apple Pay, Venmo. It’s impossible to get your money back in those types of payment methods, and that’s why scammers like them so much - it’s not reversible. The scammer can really remain anonymous. It’s best to use traditional payment methods, (such as) a credit card or PayPal. There’s a good chance you can dispute a fraudulent transaction and get your money back.”

A new report - the 2021 Online Purchase Scams Report - look at how online purchase scams are being perpetrated, who is being targeted, the overall impact of the scams, and how people can avoid losing money to them.

You can view the report in its entirety below.

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