YORK, Pa. — The Better Business Bureau on Friday warned consumers about a crafty new online scam targeting holiday shoppers.
"The BBB Scam Tracker has gotten dozens of reports of a crafty new online shopping con," the agency said. "This time, scammers claim a product you purchased is out of stock, but they never process your promised refund."
How the scam works
You see a product online that you want to purchase. (Many shoppers report encountering this scam through social media ads.) You click on the link to the company's website, find the product, and check out.
Shortly after your card is charged, you receive an email saying the product is out of stock and they will refund your money. You wait several days for the refund to post to your account, but it never does.
Then, when you try to contact the online shop, no one responds.
The truth is the product never existed in the first place, and scammers hope you'll never notice you didn't get your refund, the BBB said.
However, if you used a credit card, you should be able to contest the charge and get your money back.
Read the full alert on BBB.org for more details.
How to avoid online shopping scams:
- Research before you buy. Always research businesses before you purchase, especially if you aren't familiar with the company. Read consumer reviews on other websites and do a quick online search for the business name along with the word "scam" to rule out any suspicious activity spotted by other consumers.
- Watch out for social media scams. Con artists love using social media to promote their scams. Some red flags include deals that seem too good to be true, phony personalized products, fake coupons, and product links that lead to questionable websites.
- Keep records of your purchase. Keep receipts, order confirmations, and any other correspondence you have with a company that has promised to deliver a product. These documents will come in handy later if you need to contest the purchase.
- See the full article on BBB.org for more tips.
For more information
Check out BBB's tip on smart shopping online for additional advice. Read BBB's article on five ways to avoid package delivery issues.
If you've been the victim of a scam, report it to BBB Scam Tracker. By reporting your experience, you can help others avoid falling for the same scam.