How to avoid being a victim of online shopping fraud

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UNION, Mo. — Online shopping scams have skyrocketed since the start of the pandemic, with fraudulent ads on social media playing a key role, according to a new report from the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

The report found that these particular scams nearly doubled from 2019 to 2020 amid the shift to online shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic and the global supply chain crisis.

“The Better Business Bureau gets more complaints about online shopping than anything else,” said Steve Baker, an international investigations specialist with the BBB.

He said electronic shopping complaints are up 40% from 2019.

“We found that 70% of the people that lost money were not actively looking to buy first encountered the scammers on Facebook at Instagram,” said Baker.

Rhonda Jordan is one of a growing number of online shopping fraud victims. The ring she ordered never came in the mail, and she later found out the company was fake.

“I saw an ad on Facebook advertising a piece of jewelry I really cared a lot about and liked,” she said. “The website looked exactly the same as Kay Jeweler. They had even copied and pasted their website.”

Jordan said she lost $60 in the scam but has learned her lesson.

“If I can’t go in and purchase it for myself, or check things out thoroughly, I’m not doing it,” she said.

Baker said scammers in China take pictures from real businesses in the United States and post them on social media to unsuspecting domestic customers.

“The scammers are good,” he said. “When scams succeed, they bring in more people to do the scams and they just take off. The numbers from the Federal Trade Commission look like they’re going to quadrupole the amount of money lost since 2019.”

To check whether a site is legit or a scam, the BBB recommends visiting the following sources before making a purchase: https://www.scamadviser.com/ and https://www.bbb.org/scamtracker

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