BBB offers tips to shop smart and safely this holiday season

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) – The Wisconsin Better Business Bureau is offering shoppers tips ahead of the holiday shopping season.

The BBB said between high inflation rates and increased prices of consumer goodsthe 2022 shopping season promises to be an unpredictable one – including with new scams.

Electronics, toys and other products are in short supply, and retailers are trying to staff up as the shopping season gets closer, according to the BBB. It also said that retailers are expecting more people to shop online this year.

With products in high demand and online shopping increasing, the BBB is warning that there may be even more online purchasing scams this year. In 2021, these scams accounted for almost 40% of all scams reported to the BBB Scam Tracker in 2021.

The BBB recommends the following tips to shop smart and safely this holiday season:

  • Research before you buy. Use the BBB and shopper reviews to do your homework before buying. Here are some tips to help spot fake reviews.
  • Don’t fall for deals that look too good to be true. The BBB said the top motivating factor for people who made a purchase and lost money was the price. Don’t shop on price alone.
  • Watch out for fake websites. Check the URL, watch for bad grammar, research the age of the domain and search for contact information. Here are some tips for spotting a fake website.
  • Professional photos don’t mean it’s real. Shoppers reported that website photos motivated them to engage with scammers, especially for pets/pet supplies, clothing/accessories and vehicles.
  • Make sure the website is secure. Look for “HTTPS” in the URL – the extra “s” is for “secure.” Look for a small lock icon in the address bar. Never enter payment or personal information into a website without these securities.
  • Be careful purchasing sought-after products. The BBB said the risk of online purchase scams rises during the holidays because more people are making online purchases, and scammers offer the most popular products of the season at great prices.
  • Don’t make quick purchases while scrolling through social media. Scammers have access to tools they need to learn about your buying behaviors, offering exactly what you want at enticing prices.
  • Look for the BBB seal. BBB Accredited Businesses pledge to uphold the BBB Standards for Trust and to deal fairly with customers. Verify businesses that display a BBB seal here.
  • Use secure and traceable transactions and payment methods. BBB research shows that those who paid with a credit card are less likely to lose money. Be wary when paying with digital wallet apps, prepaid money cards or other non-traditional payment methods. Learn more about how to safely use each payment type here.
  • Shipment tracking information can be faked. Look closely to make sure the business is legitimate. Don’t click on the tracking link; go to the shipper’s website to type in the code to check if it’s real.

If you experience a shopping scam this holiday season, report it to the BBB. You can help other consumers avoid being scammed.

For more holiday shopping tips, visit the BBB’s website.

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