Holiday shopping online? BBB offers tips to avoid getting ‘grinched’

Local News

Retailers expect Internet sales to far surpass brick-and-mortar stores

AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB)–Retailers are expecting a record number of holiday shoppers to turn to the Internet this year—far surpassing the sales at brick-and mortar establishments.

But authorities are also bracing for a growing number of holiday ripoffs, and the Better Business Bureau is offering tips to help shoppers avoid getting scammed while safely navigating the web.

First, make sure that great deal you find online is being offered by a legitimate retailer or website, said Melanie McGovern of the Upstate New York BBB.

McGovern said this time of year, authorities caution there are thousands of scam sites spoofing, or mimicking, legitimate retailers.

“Emails might come to you saying, ‘hey we’ve got this great deal for you on this TV,’ or something like that, and you click through and then you don’t know where you are. So you want to make sure you are using the website of a legitimate retailer before you do anything.”

McGovern also advises when paying on the web, it is imperative that you use a credit card to make sure you get what you pay for.

“If a site is asking for payments to be wired, if they are asking for Venmo, PayPal–a lot of sites do take PayPal, that’s fine. But if that is the only form of payment they take, that is a red flag.”

With a growing number of cyber shoppers using their mobile devices, the BBB warns buyers to avoid using public Wi-Fi.

McGovern also recommends checking a website’s return policy, to make sure you can get a refund or a store credit.

“So you want to make sure that they have some kind of refund policy, what it is, how long people have to return things, if they are allowed to return things, who picks up the tab on a return–things like that, especially if you are buying clothing or anything that could be the wrong size.”

McGovern added, be careful using “peer 2 peer” payment apps such as Venmo and Zelle. They are designed for transactions between friends and family, not for paying a third party. You can find more timely tips from the Better Business Bureau for safe shopping online here.

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