GREENSBORO, N.C. — Christmas is more than two months away and folks are already shopping for holiday gifts due to shipping and supply chain issues.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) wants to make sure the Grinch doesn’t steal your Christmas through online shopping scams.
The organization said online purchase scams account for more than a third of all scam reports filed to the BBB and four out of five consumers who report such scams lost money.
Experts predict this year scammers will take advantage of supply chain concerns by capitalizing on what people are looking for online and focusing on the most sought-after gifts such as electronics, toys, and other trendy gift items.
“I think scammers are targeting all kinds of products and they’re going to reach out to us in various different ways,” Central and Northwest NC BBB Communications Director Lechelle Yates said.
“They’re reaching out to us on social media with all kinds of ads, but they’re also out there where we’re looking all on our own to try to find goods and services and targeting us that way as well.”
The BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report found 64-percent of people were actively searching for a product when they lost money to an online scam, while 36-percent of those who lost money were passively looking or not searching.
As big chain retail stores start to release early Black Friday deals, Yates said consumers need to be extra cautious.
“That’s going to open the door for scammers because it’s going to make it even harder for us to know what’s a real sale and what’s not,” Yates explained.
“So, you really are going to have to put on your thinking hat when you get to buy something and just really be aware and think. Is it a scammer on the other end of that ad? Is it a real product? Is it a real site? Am I really going to get what I order and always think no, and pay with a credit card because you don’t want to waste your money.”
Yates said there are several ways to protect yourself as you online shop.
- Look for contact information on a website
- Try to look for refund and return policy information
- Keep an eye out for BBB accreditation
- Look for simple language and spelling on the site
- Look for positive reviews