5 tips to spot fake shopping sites and avoid being scammed
Online shopping scams are on the rise as thieves take advantage of the surge of people flocking to the internet during the holidays.
They do it by creating slick-looking websites pretending to sell items on high demand. To lure you onto the sites, scammers pay for ads on Facebook, Google and other websites.
The best way to not get scammed is to be aware of the tactics and know what to look for. Here are some tips:
1. RESEARCH THE SITE
If you’re on a website you’ve never used before, do an online search of the company's name along with the words “scam” or “review.” Check the site’s social media pages for any complaints from customers. And try the Better Business Bureau's Scam Tracker, which lets you search company names and read any complaints. Another thing you should do: Read the site's “About Us” page. Misspellings or sentences that don’t make sense are red flags.
2. BE WARY OF ONLINE ADS
Place extra scrutiny on sites you find through social media ads, which are a common way to lure people in. Sometimes the ads are based on products you've been searching for online. For example, if you’ve been looking for a certain toy, scammers can buy ads to get their site on your Facebook timeline with a picture of the toy you've been wanting to buy.
3. BE SUSPICIOUS OF HARD-TO-FIND PRODUCTS
Another way shoppers get tricked is by sites that falsely say they have products in stock that are sold out almost everywhere else. Last month, for example, the FTC moved to shut down 25 sites that tricked people into paying for Clorox and Lysol wipes, only to never receive them. Scammers do the same during the holidays, saying that they have hard-to-find video game consoles or toys.
4. DON’T FALL FOR PRICE
If the price is too good to be true, it probably is, says Better Business Bureau spokeswoman Katherine Hutt. Scammers offer lower prices on hot products knowing that shoppers will find them hard to resist.
5. IF YOU ARE SCAMMED
Call your credit card company to dispute the charges and try to get a refund. You can also report the site on the Better Business Bureau and FTC websites, which could help others from being scammed.
An Associated Press report was used in this guide.