Since the start of the pandemic, the Better Business Bureau says it has seen an increase in online purchase scams.
With the holidays approaching and many utilizing online shopping platforms, they have tips on how to avoid becoming a victim to purchase scamming.
According to the BBB, "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."
Tri Counties Better Business Bureau President Rick Copelan says there are simple tests and details to look out for when shopping online.
"It is helpful to check out the authenticity of a company's website," he says.
You can do this by searching through BetterWhoIs, an online resource that can track domain names and find out where and when a domain was created. If there are any inconsistencies, it can be a tip-off that a website is a scam.
"Always look for the HTTPS with the little lock in the URL next to it. It tells you that you are dealing with a secure website. If it is not there, I wouldn't do it," Copelan adds.
According to the BBB website, looking for websites that have "HTTPS" in the URL ensures extra security. They advise, "never enter payment information onto a website with only HTTP, as it is not secure."
The Better Business Bureau found that low price was the top reason victims purchased a product online and lost money, with 73% of online purchase scam victims paying for their product but never receiving it.
Additional BBB Tips:
- Make sure the website is secure: 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 onto a website with only "HTTP" (it is not secure).
- Beware of fake websites: Check the URL for errors/inconsistencies. Watch for bad grammar. Search for accessible contact information. Beware of new domain names.
- Use secure/traceable transactions: Avoid paying by wire transfer, prepaid money card, gift cards, or other non-traditional payments.
- The shipment tracking information you received might be fake: Don't just click on the tracking link; go to the shipper's website and type in the code yourself to see if it is real.
- Be careful seeking sought-after products especially during the holiday season: Risk of online purchase scams increase during the holidays. Scammers often provide the most popular products for the season at great prices. If the deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.
You can visit the Better Bureau's website for more information and helpful tips for safe online shopping.