It’s November which means the holiday shopping season is right around the corner. If you’re someone who prefers to avoid the crowds by purchasing your gifts online, be sure to keep an eye out for potential scams this year. According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), scammers are now using advertisements on social media sites, like Facebook and Instagram, to fool shoppers.
Recently, a series of social media advertisements was used to trick shoppers into purchasing a hair straightener called Trendy Iron. The customers paid for the product, but it never arrived.
On the surface, everything seemed legitimate. The advertisements were high quality and featured convincing photos of women styling their hair with the Trendy Iron, claiming it gave them amazing results. After customers ordered the product, they received an email confirming the purchase and guaranteeing a shipping date. However, that date would come and go, and the product would never arrive. Neither the Trendy Iron website nor the confirmation email provided contact information for the company, making it impossible to get a refund on the purchase.
This is just one example of a shopping scam, but it’s not the only one. Other common false advertisements include clothes, cosmetics, supplements, and even pets. Here are a few tips you can you use to protect yourself while shopping online this holiday season:
3 ways to protect yourself from an online shopping scam:
- Confirm that the contact information is real. In many shopping scam cases, the contact information provided in the confirmation email isn’t active. Before you purchase something from an online vendor, check that the seller has a working phone number and a valid address in case you need to contact them in the future about problems with your order.
- If the price seems too good to be true, then it probably is. Be cautious if the item is selling for significantly lower than the prices you’ve seen elsewhere. Scammers often use discounts and deals to make their phony products more tempting for shoppers.
- Do your research. Even if the advertisement looks legitimate, be cautious. Verify that the site is secure before making an online purchase. One of the ways you can do this by looking for HTTPS in the domain name found in the search bar.
If you’ve been targeted by a shopping scam, you can help others avoid being scammed by reporting the incident to the Federal Trade Commission or the Better Business Bureau. For more information about common scams in 2017, check out the BBB’s Scam Tracker Annual Risk Report.
Guest Blogger: August Braun, a Communications Intern and a journalism student at UW-Madison.