MILWAUKEE — High inflation rates and increased consumer goods prices are making the 2022 holiday shopping season an unpredictable one.
Many toys and electronics are in high demand and short supply, and retailers are struggling to keep staff as the shopping season continues to grow.
Because of product shortages and increased online shopping trends, the Better Business Bureau of Wisconsin said there would be an increase in purchasing scams this year. These scams accounted for nearly 40% of all scams reported to BBB Scam Tracker in 2021, according to the 2021 BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report.
Shortages are likely to make purchase scams even more common as desperate shoppers turn to random websites hoping to find this year’s must-have gifts.
The BBB recommends the following tips to “Shop Safe, Shop Smart” this holiday season:
Research before you buy
Use BBB.org and shopper reviews to do your homework before paying. The BBB offers tips for spotting phone reviews.
If the deal looks too good to be true, it probably is
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.
Beware of fake websites
Check the URL, watch for bad grammar, research the age of the domain and search for contact information.
Professional photos don’t mean it’s a real offer
Respondents reported 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 the “HTTPS” in the URL (the “s” is for “secure”) and a small lock icon on the address bar. The BBB said to never enter payments or personal information into a website with only “HTTP,” as it is not secure.
Be careful purchasing sought-after products, especially during the holiday season
The risk of online purchase scams rises during the holidays because more people are making online purchases, and scammers offer the most popular products for the season at great prices.
Beware of making 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 extremely low prices.
Use secure and traceable transactions and payment methods
According to BBB’s research, those who paid with a credit card were less likely to lose money. Be cautious when paying with digital wallet apps, prepaid money cards or other non-traditional payment methods.
Shipment tracking information can be faked
Look closely to make sure it is a legitimate business. Avoid clicking on the tracking link and go to the shipper’s website and type in the code to see if it is real.
Report unsatisfactory purchase experiences to BBB
If you are unhappy with a purchase, file a complaint at BBB.org/complaints. If you never got what you paid for, consider reporting it to BBB Scam Tracker to help other consumers avoid being scammed.
For more information and additional tips, visit www.bbb.org/wisconsin or contact the Wisconsin BBB at (414) 847-6000 or 1-800-273-1002.