Don’t fall for this seller trick when buying handmade gifts online.
When the holiday season rolls around, many shoppers turn to online seller platforms to find unique, handmade gifts for their friends and family. Unfortunately, scammers have taken note, and according to recent BBB Scam Tracker reports, they’re targeting shoppers with a not-so-unique scam. These recent reports say that the fraud occurs on well-known and reputable websites, such as Etsy (a BBB Accredited Business). However, scammers might also use this same scam tactic on other platforms.
How this scam works
You’re browsing online when you find a special gift or holiday decoration that you’d like to purchase. The photos seem professional, and everything looks normal except for one thing. In the item description, you find a message from the seller advising you not to purchase through the online sales platform where you have discovered it. Instead, the seller encourages you to buy the item directly from their independent website, promising you’ll get a hefty discount if you do.
If you follow the link to a website outside the original sales platform and make a purchase, you’ll likely be disappointed when you discover they’ve debited your charge card, but the product never arrives. Unfortunately, that’s because the product never existed in the first place. Worse yet, if you have fallen for this type of scam, your payment information will now be in the hands of evil characters.
How to avoid online shopping scams:
- Do business with reputable websites. In general, avoid going off-platform to buy from sellers that you discover online; it’s much safer to purchase through reputable websites that help specialty sellers connect with buyers. Legitimate websites like Etsy have specific policies in place to protect sellers and buyers. For example, at Etsy, if an order isn’t delivered, you can open a case with Etsy, and you may get your money back. If a seller asks you directly to shop outside of a website where they listed products, think twice. Etsy states: “To avoid scams and fraud, all transactions must take place on the Etsy platform, through the Etsy checkout system.”
- Research the seller. Read customer reviews keeping an eye out for any reports of scams or dishonest behavior. If the seller doesn’t have any reviews yet, do a general online search of the seller’s name, the item, and the word “scam,” just to be safe.
- See the full article on BBB.org for more tips.
For more information
Check out BBB’s tip on smart shopping online for additional advice. Read BBB’s article on five ways to avoid package delivery issues.
If you’ve been the victim of a scam, report it to BBB Scam Tracker. By reporting your experience, you can help others avoid falling for the same scam.
Also, you might receive an e-mail stating that a company had debited your account for an amount that will make your hair stand up. They word it to get you to call and dispute the charge. I’ve received two, one from McAfee and the other from Geek Squad. Both are bogus. Geek Squad charges only $199.00 for a year’s service. Ignore such an e-mail and check your credit cards and bank accounts often.