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BBB: Tips to shop safe this holiday season

It probably comes as no surprise that consumers see a surge in sales and too good to be true deals during the holidays. However, the Better Business Bureau urges consumers to watch out for scammers who wish to take advantage of the shopping frenzy this time of year.

Experts believe consumers may pay more attention to killer deals this year as we enter a new season of economic uncertainty.

Retailers expect to see a continued trend of online shopping this season. Online shopping scam reports to BBB Scam Tracker remain just under all-time highs reached in 2021 when BBB issued an in-depth study.

Online purchase scams have been ranked among the top three riskiest scams in each of the past three years, according to BBB’s Online Purchase Scams Report.

In 2020, more than 80 percent of consumers who reported an online purchase scam lost money, up from 24 percent in 2019 and a steady increase from the 71 percent reported since 2015.

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

• If the deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. The leading motivator for people who made a purchase and lost money was the price. Don’t shop on price alone;

• Research before you buy. Use and shopper reviews to do your homework before paying;

• Beware of fake websites. Check the URL, watch for bad grammar, research the age of the domain, and search for contact information;

• Professional photos do not mean it’s a real offer. Respondents 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 the “HTTPS” in the URL (the extra “s” is for “secure”) and a small lock icon on the address bar. Never enter payment or personal information into a website with only “HTTP” — it is NOT secure;

• Be careful purchasing sought-after products. 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 enticingly 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 by digital wallet apps, prepaid money cards, or other non-traditional payment methods. Learn more about payment types and how to use each safely.

For more business tips, visit If you are unhappy with a purchase, file a complaint at If you never got what you paid for, consider reporting it to BBB Scam Tracker to help other consumers avoid being scammed.


Roseann Freitas is marketplace manager Hawai‘i, Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific, 900 Fort Street Mall, Ste. 1310, Honolulu, HI 96813, 808-260-0643,
Source: The Garden Island

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