AARP warns of online shopping scams

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) – During the pandemic, online shopping has been more popular than ever.

But as the number of internet shoppers swells, so are the number of internet shopping scams.

“Over the last couple of years, I’ve been buying tons of things online, so has everybody else, and we just have to be extra vigilant because scammers know this and they’re taking advantage of the situation.”

Mark Fetterhoff with AARP sat down with 11 Call For Action investigator Katie Pelton with his advice for customers. Below is a Q and A:

Pelton: “Consumers have turned to the internet to do a lot of their shopping, including buying holiday gifts right now. Unfortunately, online shopping scams have really skyrocketed since the start of the pandemic. Can you talk about the problem?”

Fetterhoff: “A couple of places where we’ve seen scammers really take advantage of online is, first of all, puppy scams, lots of puppy scams, and scams involving pets. So we’ve heard lots of different reports of fake websites that are selling very cute puppies and trying to get people to send money to ship those puppies. Additionally, there’s been lots of different issues with health products. Selling health products that never show up at your door that you might get charged extra for. Additionally, there’s a lot of scammers around the major retailers we have, like Amazon. Lots of scammers have tried to impersonate Amazon and call and say they’re with Amazon. So thinking about the way you’re shopping and be careful is extra important right now.”

Pelton: “This impacts a lot of people — 35 percent of adults have been scammed while online shopping.”

Fetterhoff: “That’s correct. It’s really important to be extra vigilant when you’re shopping online. One important tip right now, especially if you’re shopping on social media: understand that there are different types of ads that are being placed on social media sites that you need to be extra careful for … do the research about those ads and the companies selling the different products to make sure you don’t get stuck in a scam or some type of a shipping ordeal where you might now get a product for much longer than you had hoped.”

Pelton: “I always tell folks, ‘Be careful if it looks way too good to be true and the price is unbelievable.’”

Fetterhoff: “Exactly. I got sucked into this myself by looking at an ad on a social media site. I knew that ad was too good to be true, but I went ahead and did it, but I used the proper precautions by using a credit card for the purchase so I had the ability to dispute the charge when I didn’t receive it in the mail.”

Pelton: “What should you do when shopping online?”

Fetterhoff: “Make sure you’re using a trusted website, and if you’re not using a website you’ve used before, do some extra research. One thing I often do is put the name of the website and then put the word ‘scam’ or ‘report’ next to it in a search just to see if someone has ever reported it as a scammy website in the past. Really watch out for different types of payment methods that aren’t typical: so if you’re ever asked to use a gift card or a peer-to-peer payment app like Venmo or CashApp or PayPal directly and not through a vendor, be really cautious of that because it’s most likely a scam.

“Watch out for these sites that just pop up. I’ll tell you a lot of the puppy scams that we have seen, they take the name of a cute breed of puppy and they’ll put stock photos of the puppy up on the website and suck people in who want that type of breed. So you need to watch for those type of sites and they’re going to pop up this time of season.”

You can report scams and fraud to the Colorado attorney general’s statewide consumer hotline: 800-222-4444. If you’re a senior who believes you might have been scammed, press option 2 to speak to AARP Elderwatch.

Click here to watch the 11 Call For Action half-hour special edition: Top scams and consumer issues of 2021.

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Friday November 26, 2021