Better Business Bureau (BBB) Southeast Texas CEO Liz Fredrichs warns shoppers to do their research, be mindful of social media scrolling, and use credit cards to avoid scammers this holiday shopping season.
Online shopping scam reports to BBB Scam Tracker remain just under all-time highs reached in 2021, with losses approaching $380 million. According to an October BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust report, scams being perpetrated online have risen 87% since BBB Scam Tracker launched in 2015.
In many cases reported to BBB’s Scam Tracker, the scammers entice shoppers with hard-to-find items, low prices, and fast delivery.
“Nearly 24% of all online retail fraud reports to BBB Scam Tracker in our area originated through a fake website,” Fredrichs said.
Scammers target three key moments in the shopping process, according to BBB Scam Tracker – before the purchase, enticing consumers with advertisements for scams on social media; while shopping, luring shoppers with artificially low prices or fake websites; and after the purchase, with fraudsters sending fake tracking information and requests for more money for safe delivery.
Fraudsters, the BBB, reports, use a variety of methods to collect money, including credit cards, money transfer services (Venmo, Zelle, PayPal) and gift cards.
“PayPal is the only cash-sharing app that offers some protections for consumers, though reports to BBB show mixed success in obtaining refunds,” the agency finds. “BBB recommends consumers pay with a credit card when possible, as those companies have strong procedures in place for disputing fraudulent transactions.”