Be smart when shopping online this holiday season – The Jackson Sun
The percentage of holiday sales made online has been increasing every year and the pandemic will only accelerate that trend this holiday season. The National Retail Federation predicts overall sales will increase 3.6 to 5.2 percent, while online and other non-store sales will grow 20 to 30 percent. Adobe Analytics predicts online sales will grow 33 percent and even more if there is another round of stimulus payments and/or more brick-and-mortar stores are forced to shut down.
Scammers will attempt to get their share of online sales dollars. Online purchase scams represent 38 percent of all scams reported to the BBB this year, up from 24 percent in 2019. The enticement of a great price was the top reason victims fell for the scam. A high percentage reported that they didn’t check out the website before making a purchase. The good news is that many others do check – we’ve seen a 316 percent increase in consumers researching online retailers on BBB.org.
And what constitutes a scam is in the eye of the beholder. Our BBB has issued alerts about three local online retailers that are real businesses, but whose customers complain they were scammed because they didn’t get their orders. One sells shoes for tots, one sells sneakers for people of all ages, and one sells ATVs. Complainants could have saved themselves a lot of money and grief by checking out the companies’ records with the BBB.
Consumers who lose money to online purchase scams or disreputable businesses aren’t the only victims. Those are dollars that can’t be spent with honest retailers and victims become less trusting of all websites.
The BBB offers the following tips for shopping safely online:
- Check the company out with the BBB and read online reviews from other consumers. Look for the BBB seal that indicates the company has met our Standards for Trust.
- Beware of fake websites. Watch for bad grammar and links that don’t go anywhere or go to pages with what appears to be generic information copied from another website. Don’t be fooled by professional photos.
- Make sure the website is secure. Look for “https” in the URL and a small lock icon on the address bar. Don’t enter credit card or personal information into a website with only “http” – it’s not secure.
- Be wary if a website claims to have sought-after products that can’t be found anywhere else.
- Use your credit card. If any shady charges turn up later or you didn’t get what you ordered, you’ll be able to contest the charge through your credit card company. Never make purchases with online sellers by giving them prepaid debit cards or wiring them money.
- Read the fine print before you buy. Understand the return or exchange policy for the specific item you want to purchase. Be aware that stores may not allow returns for “final sale” or “closeout” items. Make sure to get a gift receipt so the recipient can return or exchange the item if necessary.
Remember the old adage that if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. And understand that even if the return policy looks good, a scammer or bad business won’t honor it.
Randy Hutchinson is the president of the Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South. Reach the BBB at 800-222-8754.
Published at Fri, 04 Dec 2020 02:55:10 +0000