The scam works by the victim scrolling through social media feeds or doing a web search and coming across an advertisement for a going-out-of-business sale. The company is closing, most likely due to COVID-19 reasons, and selling off its inventory at a great discount.
If the victim clicks on the ad or types in the promoted URL, it will lead them to a website selling everything from designer goods to electronics to novelty items. From looking at the photos, the products seem like a great deal initially. However, BBB says if the individual orders something, what ends up arriving isn’t what the individual thought would show up. Many reports have been made to BBB Scam Tracker, noting the products they receive are much worse quality than what was shown online.
Other times, the BBB says scammers never intend to send anything at all. They simply steal your credit card information when the individual is prompted to pay. The fake websites can also download malware onto your computer and give scammers access to personal information, passwords and more.
Here are some tips to avoid fake sale scams from the BBB:
- Know where you shop. Be wary of purchasing items from online retailers with whom you are not familiar. Even if you are on the website of a reputable company, double-check the web address before you make a purchase to be sure scammers haven’t redirected you to an imitation website.
- Use your credit card. Paying with a credit card gives you the advantage of being able to dispute fraudulent charges. This is the safest payment method for purchasing items online. Be warned, however, that your credit card company may not keep this up indefinitely. If you routinely shop at shady websites, at some point they may refuse to return your money.
- Check the age of a website’s domain. Use a website to check whether a website was established recently.
For more information on how to protect yourself from online shopping scams, click here.
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