Online shopping scams on the rise this holiday season

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) – Online purchase scams are the number one way people lose money during the holiday season, according to the Better Business Bureau.

Many small retailers transitioned to offering their products online during the pandemic. Little Luxuries, a gift shop on State Street in Madison is an example of a local business that did not sell products online before the pandemic but now does.

“We established our website at the beginning of last year and that amounted to 20 percent of our sales last holiday season,” said Little Luxuries owner, Amy Moore.

Moore says while many customers have returned to shop in store, the online site is a great alternative for customers who still don’t feel comfortable shopping in person as the pandemic continues.

For all online retailers, the 2021 holiday season is expected to break records for online shopping despite growing supply chain issues, higher prices, and shipping delays.

Tiffany B. Schultz, regional director with the Wisconsin Better Business Bureau says it’s important to be careful when shopping online whether you’re shopping a small business or large retailer.

“It’s so easy for scammers to throw up fake websites that mimic the real site so make sure you’re on the real site,” said Schultz. With the risks that come with online shopping, Schultz says it can be easy for consumers to stick to shopping with large big box stores where they know it’s safe but she adds that it’s still important to support local small businesses too.

To shop with confidence, consumers are encouraged to do their research. If you come across a site you aren’t familiar with, don’t automatically assume it’s a scam. It could be a local small business that has recently transitioned to selling online. Following simple steps can help vet the website.

The BBB recommends these tips for safe shopping this holiday:

  • Research before you buy
  • Beware of fake websites
  • Make sure the website is secure: Secure web addresses should lead with “HTTPS” not “HTTP”
  • Be careful purchasing sought-after products. If it’s sold out everywhere and you find it for a low price online, it might be a scam.
  • Beware of making quick purchases while scrolling through social media
  • Use secure and traceable transactions and payment methods

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Friday November 12, 2021