By Jade Garcia, PR Coordinator
You’re browsing Facebook and see an ad on the side of the screen with the shoes you’ve had your eye on for a while. You glance at it because it’s just an ad. But then you do a double take because the website is selling it for a lot less than other retailers! You get so excited about the deal that you decide to put two pairs into your shopping cart and click the checkout button and enter your debit card to purchase them both.
The next day you check your email to see if your purchase has shipped, but you never received a confirmation email. Back on the website you find a phone number. When you try calling, it rings and leads you to a voicemail. Next you check your bank account to see if they charged you for the shoes. Instead there’s a random transaction from a company you have never heard of before. What’s going on?
This is just a scenario of what could happen to you when you run into an online purchase scam.
A consumer reported to Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest that she experienced a similar scam on sportsfanatic.co.
“I first saw their posts on Facebook ads- which now I know that should’ve been a sign,” she said.
She adds that she went to the Sports Fanatic website and saw the BBB shield, but never clicked on it to see a review.
When a couple weeks passed with no confirmation email and no package arriving with her sweatshirt, she tried looking up their phone number. She didn’t see one on their website so she emailed firstname.lastname@example.org. When she never received a call or email back she looked at her bank account and noticed a fraudulent charge listed as Summit View LLC.
Luckily, this consumer reported the incident to the BBB Scam Tracker and her bank. Through her bank, she was able to get her money back and change bank accounts so this business couldn’t charge her again. By reporting this scam to Scam Tracker, she warns other consumers to look out for these online shopping scams.
To dodge these scams, BBB warns to look out for the following red flags:
Spot Look-alike Sellers
Watch out for URLs that use the names of well-known brands along with extra words or letters. It’s easy for scammers to mimic a famous retailer’s website. Even the confirmation email can be deceiving and seem legitimate. Check out retailers at bbb.org before you shop.
Look for the BBB Seal.
Some websites are misusing the BBB seal. To check if a company is truly accredited click on the blue BBB torch icon and you should be redirected to bbb.org to view the company’s business review. If not, it’s likely a fake.
Advertisement on Social Media
Forty percent of the scams reported to BBB Northwest were advertised on social media or used it as a means of contact. Remember, anyone can create a Facebook, Instagram or Twitter account. Check to see if the social media accounts have links to websites to make sure the business is legitimate.
If the site is secure there should be an “s” in “https://” and a lock icon in the address bar on the purchase or shopping cart page.
Still not sure if the site is a scam or not? Before checking out and typing in a form of payment, make sure to follow these tips:
Unusual Forms of Payment.
Be wary of anyone who asks you to pay for purchases using prepaid debit cards, gift cards, wire transfers, third parties, etc. These payments cannot be traced and cannot be undone.
Declined Card at Purchase.
Multiple consumers have reported to BBB that when they make a purchase on the site, their card claims to be declined and within hours their cards are charged several times.
Be Wary of Signing Up for an Account.
Some websites require credit card information when creating an account. By creating an account and providing personal information, it may mean signing up for an unknown subscription, charge or for scammers to hack your card information.
To find out more about scams or to report one go to BBB Scam Tracker.