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BBB: Watch out for online purchase scams

With online shopping expected to approach or surpass record levels this holiday season, consumer advocates are issuing warnings about purchase scams on the internet.

Online purchase scams now account for more than a third of all scam reports filed with the Better Business Bureau, and four out of five consumers who report such scams lose money, making it the riskiest scam type, according to a recent report from the consumer advocacy nonprofit.

The BBB is warning consumers before the holiday shopping season to be aware of how scammers deceive consumers, whether they are actively shopping or passively browsing.

“Online purchase scams don’t just affect those who lose money,” Melissa Trumpower, executive director of the BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust, said in a news release. “For every victim who lost money, that meant less income to buy groceries, gifts, pay the utility bill, or the loss of personal information that could lead to identity theft.”

The 2021 BBB Online Purchase Scams Report examined more than 55,000 online purchase scam reports submitted to the bureau’s scam tracker from 2016 to 2020 as well as new research conducted this year to get insights from those who reported online purchase scams in 2020 and 2021.

Online purchase scams consistently rank among the top three riskiest since 2017, and a significant number of people continue to lose money when targeted by online purchase scams (74.8% so far in 2021). The median dollar loss for this scam type has risen in recent years, up from US$76 (RM315) in 2019 to US$102 (RM423) so far in 2021.

Experts are predicting an earlier start to the 2021 holiday shopping season because of supply chain concerns, microchip shortages and holiday hiring. The BBB warns that scammers will find ways to take advantage of the situation by varying product categories, capitalising on what people are looking for online and focusing on the most sought-after gifts such as electronics, toys and other trendy gift items.

“These critical findings can help guide our scam prevention outreach to those most vulnerable to these scam types,” Trumpower said. – The Herald Bulletin, Anderson, Ind./Tribune News Service



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