Anchorage, Alaska. — Feb. 15, 2017 Within the past year Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest has recorded 45 online clothes and apparel shopping scams with an estimated $5,500 lost. Of those 45 scams, Alaska reported six of those with an estimated $700 lost.
Seventy-six percent of the online fashion scams reported to BBB consisted of consumers being charged for a clothing item they purchased online but never received in the mail. Another 15 percent reported they received an off-brand, poorly made item they purchased at a discounted price and couldn’t return it. The other nine percent reported scammers phishing for credit card information by selling a product that didn’t exist.
To dodge these scams, look out for the following red flags:
- Spot look-alike sellers. Watch out for URLs that use the names of well-known brands along with extra words or letters. It’s easy for scammers to mimic a famous retailer’s website. Even the confirmation email can be deceiving and seem legitimate. Check out retailers at bbb.org before you shop.
- Look for the BBB seal. Some websites are misusing the BBB seal. To check if a company is truly accredited click on the blue BBB torch icon and you should be redirected to bbb.org to view the company’s business review. If not, it’s likely a fake.
- Advertisement on social media. Forty percent of the scams reported to BBB Northwest were advertised on social media or used it as a means of contact. Remember, anyone can create a Facebook, Instagram or Twitter account. Check to see if the social media accounts have links to websites to make sure the business is legitimate.
- Check a site’s security settings. If the site is secure there should be an “s” in “https://” and a lock icon in the address bar on the purchase or shopping cart page.
Still not sure if the site is a scam or not? Before checking out and typing in a form of payment, make sure to follow these tips:
- Say no to unusual forms of payment. Be wary of anyone who asks you to pay for purchases using prepaid debit cards, gift cards, wire transfers, third parties, etc. These payments cannot be traced and cannot be undone.
- Declined card at purchase. Multiple consumers have reported to BBB that when they make a purchase on the site, their card claims to be declined and within hours their cards are charged several times.
- Be wary of signing up for an account. Some websites require credit card information when creating an account. By creating an account and providing personal information, it may mean signing up for an unknown subscription, charge or for scammers to hack your card information.
To find out more about scams or to report one go to BBB Scam Tracker.