CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - A new study shows people have lost more money this year in online shopping scams than ever before.
That’s why the Better Business Bureau predicts even more scammers will be lurking online this holiday season.
The data while very alarming, could have probably been expected, considering it reflects all the reporting 19 Investigates has done this year to warn you about various online scams.
The BBB’s report says of those who reported online shopping scams this year, 73% said they never received the product.
We saw that happening a lot with face masks this spring. And, 19 News told you about the increasing number of Ohioans paying thousands of dollars for puppies, only to have their hearts broken.
Sue McConnell with the Cleveland area BBB hopes people will pay special attention to the lessons so many learned the hard way already this year, as we head into the holiday shopping season.
“We really anticipate this year is going to be a perfect storm for online purchase scammers, regardless of what you are trying to buy,” she said.
If you think this message is coming a few weeks too early, think again.
Many stores are already offering Black Friday deals, saying they’re not going to be open for in person sales the day after Thanksgiving this year.
And, McConnell says, “We think people may be shopping earlier this year, because of issues with delivery and supply. So, now is really the time to read up on how to be a wise shopper online.”
So how can you protect yourself?
First, be aware of making quick purchases while scrolling social media.
Just because something is advertised on a social media site you trust, does not mean it’s legitimate.
“Sometimes people have a false sense of security that the media checks out all these companies that are advertising,” McConnell said.
Here are three other things to keep in mind, according to the BBB’s report.
- 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.
- Professional photos do not mean it’s a real offer.
- Respondents reported that website photos motivated them to engage with scammers, especially for Pets/Pet Supplies, Clothing/ Accessories and Vehicles.
- Before you buy, do your research.
- Out of the 57% who did not research the website or business via an independent source before making a purchase, 81 percent lost money.
Here’s how to decipher whether a website is real:
- CHECK THE URL: Scammers will create fake URLs that mimic well-known brand names. If you look closely you can usually detect one character or something else that is incorrect.
- WATCH FOR BAD GRAMMAR: Read the content carefully—you may detect typos and bad grammar, indicating the website was put together quickly.
- RESEARCH AGE OF DOMAIN: Scammers create attractive sites quickly to attract victims before the sites must be taken down. Online tools can help you find out how long the domain has been active. If it’s a young website, proceed with caution.
- SEARCH FOR CONTACT INFORMATION: Is there a way to contact the business (phone, email address, address, online chat)? If the only contact information you can find is an online form, do a little more research.
- ONLINE REVIEWS: Visit BBB.org, Google, or other third-party sources to determine if consumers have filed complaints against the business.
If you are the victim of an online purchase scam, our partners at the Cuyahoga County Scam Squad want to know about it.
You are encouraged to make a report with them, and the BBB.