SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — We’re getting a better idea of how often scammers try to cheat you out of your online purchases. A new report from the Better Business Bureau finds that nearly two-thirds of all scam reports involve online shopping.
The Federal Trade Commission projects customers will lose more than $400-million dollars through online purchases from scammers this year. That’s four-times the total amount of losses from just two years ago.
Some of the biggest culprits are gangs working out of China.
Customers are ordering billions of dollars of online purchases for the holidays. But many, lured by enticing ads on social media will only be disappointed by the end product.
“Just be careful of where you’re buying your goods and services online,” Better Business Bureau State Director Jessie Schmidt said.
Scammers are taking advantage of customers desperate to complete their shopping lists by not delivering products they ordered or sending cheap knockoffs or something entirely different.
“Our example says that somebody ordered a rattan piece of furniture, and they got a burlap bag,” Schmidt said.
The Better Business Bureau says many of the scammers are vendors working out of China, where there’s little oversight of the products being sold.
“There’s such small enforcement of intellectual property rights laws there. The government doesn’t really see this, they see it as commerce,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt says the best way to protect your money is to purchase online items with your credit card or PayPal account rather than with cash-payment apps or pre-paid gift cards.
“If you don’t receive the goods that you order or something highly inferior to what you ordered, you’ve got the means to work with your credit card company under their fraud protection,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt says online shoppers also need to do their homework by seeking out contact information for the company. If there’s no phone number, or physical address, it’s likely the site isn’t legit.
The Better Business Bureau also recommends you take a screen shot of the items you purchase online in case there are any issues with the order, or the website.