BBB tips on avoiding scams this holiday season

With the surge in holiday shopping, scammers are looking for an easy target. That’s why the Better Business Bureau offers advice on how to avoid becoming a victim.

Steve Bernas, BBB’s president and CEO, doesn’t talk about crowds in the mall — or pop ads online. However, Bernas talks about shopping and thieves who score their own deals.

“This is my 34th year in the Better Business Bureau. I’ve never seen it this bad before at the moment,” Bernas said. Every day, there is a new development of a different scam. That’s why consumers need to be educated.”

Scammers know there is pent-up demand stemming from the pandemic.

The National Retail Federation expects holiday sales to grow 10.5% to $850 billion from last year. Much of that, it’s purchased online, which is convenient but has risks.

Online fraud was the number one complaint to the Better Business Bureau in 2020.

If you want to protect yourself, look closely at the URL. But, there’s a huge problem with “don’t do it,” says Bernas.

“Don’t follow the link. Go directly to the site itself. Go through Google, don’t follow the link. I don’t really trust those links,” Bernas said. They’re Big Brother, and they know what you’re looking at.”

Bernace says the “do” is to research an online retailer’s information before making a purchase.

“Make sure they have a phone number or a physical address, and they answer the phone because, like I mentioned, you can’t tell if it’s a fraudulent website or a real website,” Bernas said.

Sometimes the big clue can be a price that consumers know is too good to be true in their hearts. But, of course, this applies to all types of shopping.

“Obviously, know the price of the product you’re going to buy. Everyone has these door sales, both online and offline, because guess what? Next week, at the Better Business Bureau, we got consumers saying it wasn’t a door stop, and it’s cheaper. What can I get.” Bernas said.

Be prepared to avoid overpaying or getting something you don’t want, says Bernas.

“Do the education up front. Find out the prices, keep track of the prices, Bernas said. “Don’t just go to the store and see the doorblocks and believe it without doing some research, because those barriers will get you to the store,” Guess what? Oh, we don’t have that anymore, but we do have a whole bunch, “so this is where consumers fall into the trap.”

And if you are confused, you can try this trusted site: BBB.org.

“Very simple. There is a lot of information out there,” Bernas said. “Check with the Better Business Bureau. We can find companies you can trust on our site and you can find bad ones too.”

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