COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Many holiday shoppers are searching for the perfect gifts online, because it’s easy and convenient. But according to the Better Business Bureau, it’s also become costly and dangerous.
“Scammers became more savvy,” said Melissa Rogner, Vice President of Marketing and Communications for the Better Business Bureau of Central Ohio. “They learned how to be in those different spaces where all of our consumers are online, and they learned how to really just insert themselves in the shopping process.”
Rogner said that led to a big jump in online retail scams and fraud. So much so, that the BBB updated an in-depth study on the issue released last year.
This year, Rogner said consumers are expected to lose nearly $380 million dollars to online shopping scams, either from shopping on fake websites or buying from scammers on social media.
“This year alone, 40% of scams have come from social media platforms,” Rogner said. “So, our shoppers need to be aware that if they receive an ad, or if they receive a link through one of their social platforms, don’t make a hasty shop.”
Instead, Rogner suggests looking for red flags early on, like unusually low prices or advertisements for items you’ve searched for in the past.
“Just because they’re receiving an ad in their social space, it’s not a trustworthy link until they’ve vetted the source themself,” said Rogner.
And while you’re shopping, Rogner said to use secure websites — and check out reviews.
“What are other customers saying?” Rogner said. “What are other customers saying about the products they’re receiving, and the company that they’re purchasing from?”
Once you’ve made your purchase, be sure to keep your guard up.
Rogner said a scam rising in popularity is a shipping scam. Fraudsters send fake tracking information or request more money for a safe delivery.
“A company should not be asking for more money after the transaction has been made,” Rogner said.
If you encounter anything suspicious, Rogner said to report it to the BBB. That way, other shoppers can become aware of it before it’s too late.