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Better Business Bureau Warns of Holiday Shopping Scams

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The Better Business Bureau says using a credit card is safer than a debit or gift card when purchasing holiday gifts over the internet. (Mymemo/Adobestock)
The Better Business Bureau says using a credit card is safer than a debit or gift card when purchasing holiday gifts over the internet. (Mymemo/Adobestock)
October 29, 2020

HARTFORD, Conn. -- Lots of people are getting a jump start on holiday shopping because they want to compensate for any COVID-related shipping delays.

This week, consumer advocates are warning about a proliferation of online shopping scams.

One thing to watch out for are ads on social media such as Facebook Marketplace or Instagram which take you to fraudulent sites that mimic major retailers like Amazon or Target.

Luke Frey, associate director of communications for the Better Business Bureau Serving Connecticut, said you must check that URL.

"You should also verify if it's a legitimate site," Frey cautioned. "You could always search BBB.org or do a quick Google search just to make sure it's a trustworthy retailer before you enter your credit card."

Scammers have ways to track what you search for online and will serve up ads that offer a huge discount on hard-to-find items. In addition, fraudsters sometimes pose as private sellers.

It's a big red flag if a stranger asks you to pay via a money-transfer site such as Venmo or Zelle, or asks you to buy a prepaid Visa or Amazon gift card and send them the redemption codes on the back.

Frey advised consumers to insist on using a secure method of payment.

"Often, if you use a credit card or your PayPal account and it ends up being a fraudulent purchase, you can often get that money back," Frey explained. "However, if you use a debit card, those funds are directly out of your bank account and it's extremely hard to get those back."

The 2020 Better Business Bureau Online Purchase Scams Report showed more than 80% of consumers who reported an online purchase scam in 2020 actually lost money; up about 11% from five years ago.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - CT