BBB warns of ‘going out of business sale’ scams amid pandemic
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Unfortunately, many small businesses have been forced to shut down for good because of the COVID-19 pandemic. What’s bad for business often means sales for shoppers, however there are some scammers out there taking advantage of consumers looking to score deals.
The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers of online scams masked as sales that either don’t exist or don’t live up to the hype. Usually you’ll see them ads on social media where the scammers pose as companies selling off the last of their inventory at a great discount. Frustrated shoppers who’ve reported these types of scams say what they received isn’t the quality advertised, or what they intended to purchase. The BBB says sometimes scammers never intend to send you anything at all and will steal your credit card information, or download malware onto your computer or device.
“These are scammers setting up fake businesses, this is not a real business that is scamming people,” said Sheron Patrick, marketplace manager for the BBB branch in Alaska. “It’s con artists that are scamming consumers. We all get those ads where you’re talking to a friend, you’re talking about a mattress, and then all of a sudden the next day you have commercials about mattresses on your social media, so there’s different ways they can send those messages to you, but the main ones being social media, emails. Just really pay attention to where you’re shopping.”
So how do you avoid becoming a victim? The BBB says if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Also, be wary of purchasing from online retailers you are not familiar with. Even if you think you’re on the website of a reputable company, double check the web address before you make a purchase.
“You want to make sure you’re on a site that has the lock up on the toolbar,” said Patrick. “That means you’re dealing with an encrypted site, that your credit card information is safe. When you are purchasing things, we suggest using a credit card. If you’re using a debit card, or cash, obviously those things can not be given back, but a credit card, you could dispute the charges.”
If you believe you’ve been a victim of an online shopping scam and have lost money, you can report it to the FBI through it’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. You can also help warn other consumers by also reporting it to the BBB.
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