WATCH: 8News interview with BBB President & CEO Barry N. Moore
RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — With holiday shopping ramping up, Santa frauds are coming to town. With that in mind, the Better Business Bureau has released a comprehensive list of warning signs to look out for when shopping online this holiday season.
While Black Friday is traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year, this year was quite different – many shoppers broke out the security codes on the back of their credit cards to shop for deals online.
The BBB said 80.5 percent of consumers reporting online purchase scams in 2020 lost money; a steady increase from 71.2 percent in 2015.
The BBB stresses to read the fine print before making a purchase this Cyber Monday. Some companies list items with a high percentage off with the original price being inflated. They say you can combat this by price-comparing original costs with other competitors online before digitally unloading your cart at checkout.
Holiday online sales were jumpstarted in October with Amazon Prime Day, which has been good news for shoppers. Seventy-five percent of consumers said they would prefer to at least do some of their holiday shopping online this year — up from 65 percent last year, according to an Accenture survey.
The BBB encourages online shoppers to be aware of false advertising and phony websites this year. If a hot-ticket item seems to be at a price that is too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers love to create websites that, on first glace, appear to represent a trusted retailer. They suggest you locate if a business has legitimate contact information and customer service numbers.
While shopping online, BBB recommends that you also keep your antivirus software up to date. This helps avoid non-secure websites and pop-up phishing scams.
Barry N. Moore, President & CEO of Better Business Bureau serving Central Va., said that kids are also a target by scammers during the holiday shopping season.
“Hackers love to get kids’ I.D.s,” Moore said. “If a scammer can get a child’s Social Security Number, they’ll sell that on the dark web and make use of it for at least ten to fifteen years.”
And don’t forget to pay attention to the URL (website address). Websites that are secure will begin with HTTPS and not just HTTP.
While shopping online, it is also recommended that you use your credit card instead of a debit card. If shady charges turn up later, you can contest them through your credit card company and debit cards don’t offer the same level of protection.
And unfortunately, Small Business Saturday wasn’t immune to scams either.
Some scammers can claim to be a small business — and the BBB offers tips on how to gain big trust to shop small.
Research the shops nearest to you to find out more about customer reviews and what shops participate in small business events.
Moore said that calling the business and verifying they exist before purchasing is an extra step to take to ensure security.
“The key is to do your research. Do your due diligence. Go directly to the company and contact them,” Moore said.
The BBB also recommends to stay connected with local businesses on social media. Many Small businesses advertise sales but also give you a chance to form a relationship you can’t often get from bigger corporations.
To check a business’ reputation and trustworthiness, visit their BBB Business Profile.
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