20/05/2024 4:01 PM

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How to protect yourself against online shopping scams

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Online purchase scams have skyrocketed during the pandemic with social media ads playing a key role in the ongoing problem, according to the Better Business Bureau.

Online shopping scams have become one of the most profitable areas for criminals because they know that increased numbers of people are buying goods online.

It’s estimated 91 percent of the country’s population will be shopping online by the start of 2023- that’s about 300-million people.

A report by the BBB entitled “Theft On A Massive Scale” says losses from online shopping scams are huge.

In 2021, the BBB says reported losses from online shopping scams totaled $8.4 Million. It could be much greater because many people do not report online shopping fraud.

One way criminals obtain that money is by creating fake shopping platforms.

“There’s an infinite amount of shopping platforms out there and not all are safe and secure websites,” said Alyssa Parker of the BBB Eastern North Carolina.

The best way to make sure the website is legit is to look for the lock icon and the “S” at end of HTTP in the URL address to verify it’s a secure website.

Another way criminals can hurt you is by posting so-called “shell websites.”

“The website may be created by a scammer who sells a particular product but they’re not selling it, they’re trying to get your information,” said Parker.

Scammers often create and shut down websites very quickly. The website Scamadvisor can often tell you how long a website has been in operation.

Parker also says to be wary of reviews.

“Reviews can be faked on a website where you want to purchase something, so look to see it’s a verified review.”

The website Fakespot will do that. It analyzes thousands of reviews looking for suspicious ones. You can even add it as an extension to your browser.

Before you make any online purchase at an e-commerce website you’ve never heard of, do some research.

That research may take you 5-10 minutes more, but in the long run you’ll save yourself a lot of heartache and you won’t be throwing away money on a scam.