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SCAM ALERT: Online purchase scams up; BBB warns holiday shopping is at risk

December 6, 2021

Supply shortages are convincing holiday shoppers to start early this year and the
Better Business Bureau is urging extra caution when shopping on the web.
Online purchase scams now account for more than a third of all scam reports filed with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and four out of five consumers who report such scams lose money, making it the #1 riskiest scam type. BBB is warning consumers ahead of the holiday shopping season to be aware of how scammers deceive consumers, whether they are actively shopping or passively browsing.

What Is an Online Purchase Scam?
Online purchase scams typically involve the purchase of products and/or services where the transaction occurs via a website or other online means. Scammers utilize online technology to offer attractive deals, but once the payment is made no product or service is delivered.

Here are a few tips BBB recommends using
to help avoid online shopping scams:
If the deal looks too good to be true, it probably is
The top motivating factor for people who made a purchase and then lost money was price. Don’t shop on price alone.
Before you buy, do your research
Out of 55,000 online purchase scam reports submitted to BBB Scam Tracker 57 percent who did not research the website or business via an independent source before making a purchase, 81 percent lost money.
Beware of fake websites
Watch for bad grammar. Beware of new domain names. Search for accessible contact information. Read online reviews about the company and/or website. Look for the “https” in the URL (the extra s is for “secure”) and a small lock icon on the address bar. Never enter payment or personal information into a website with only “http” (it is not secure).
Use secure and traceable transactions
Avoid paying by wire transfer, prepaid money card, gift card, or other non-traditional payment methods.
Shop with a credit card
In case of a fraudulent transaction, a credit card provides additional protections; it’s easier to dispute charges that you didn’t approve or to get your money back if there is a problem. Debit cards, prepaid cards or gift cards don’t have the same protections as a credit card.

Contact BBB Serving Central SC and Charleston for more tips or information
on businesses in our community at or call (843) 766-9616

Chris Hadley, BBB
Chris Hadley
(843) 766-9616