BBB warns of online shopping scams ahead of Black Friday
This holiday season is going to be a big one when it comes to online shopping.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many brick-and-mortar businesses to improve their efforts in the digital space, and consumers are seeking great online shopping experiences to help them purchase their gifts and supplies. Ads for fabulous online deals are everywhere, tempting consumers with great prices and free shipping offers.
Sometimes consumers find what they ordered is not what they get. Many ads pop up with enticing gadgets, cute merchandise or items with a subliminal “I gotta have it” message - making it hard not to to click and check it out. Unfortunately, some of these companies aren’t what they seem. Other online shoppers find that once their order is placed, the company doesn’t send the product, or it is not of good quality.
According to reports made to BBB’s Scam Tracker, many people have lost money to online purchase scams. For example, a consumer recently reported that she bought a Breville Touch Coffee Machine from the website https://brevillecenter.com/. On its home page, there is a hazy “Black Friday Save up 50%” banner. Poor grammar can be an indicator that the site may be fake.
The consumer paid $550 on November 17 through PayPal. On November 19, PayPal sent her a tracking number from FedEx. She immediately traced her package. It showed that the item shipped from Texas and had already been delivered to her address in California, but she never received the product. The scammer also allegedly used a fake tracking system.
BBB found that https://brevillecenter.com/ is a fraudulent website. On its homepage it states that the company is located at 3503 10th Street in Great Bend, KS. BBB has confirmed that this is the address of a local retail store that is unaffiliated with this bogus entity. The physical address of the Breville Center is unknown. The official Breville website is https://www.breville.com/, and its corporate name is Breville USA. The company’s headquarters are located in Torrance, CA.
Here are a few things that you should be on the watch for when shopping online:
- Ensure the website address begins with https:// and check the address bar for a not secure message. A trustworthy online seller will have a secure domain, keeping your information safe from hackers. Many websites will also have security certification logos visible on their page. Always click them to ensure they open an attached security policy because many scam sites will simply display these logos without an option to click through to a policy.
- Check the age of the website’s domain. Use a website like whois.domaintools.com/ to check whether a website was established recently. Because crises like the coronavirus provide new avenues for scammers to take advantage of the public. They will often establish new websites that match current events.
- Check for an about page and a contact us section. Scammers are creative, but they don’t often take the time to fabricate a full brand history like you would find on a company’s about us page. They may fabricate contact information, but BBB recommends ensuring the phone numbers and email addresses are both legitimate and responsive.
- Research a business at BBB.org. Whatever the website offers, verify its legitimacy before you make a purchase or provide your personal information.
- Always pay by credit card. When purchasing any product or service through a website, always use a credit card as your payment method. If you pay by credit card online, your transaction will be protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act. If the product arrives defective or doesn’t arrive at all, you can dispute the charge on your credit card and temporarily withhold payment while the creditor investigates them.
- Don’t click on pop-up ads. Clicking on pop-ups that often appear while shopping online is never a good idea. Close them by carefully clicking on the “X” icon, usually in the upper right corner of the title bar—not anywhere inside the actual window of the ad. If you are interested in the offer that popped up, go to the company’s website that is selling the product and check it out there.
If you encounter a scam, report it to BBB Scam Tracker at BBB.org/scamtracker. Even if you haven’t fallen victim to the scam, the information allows BBB to protect the public from scammers and always look for businesses that follow BBB Accreditation Standards and BBB Standards for Trust. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
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