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Online purchase scams on the rise: BBB

Last Updated Oct 29, 2020 at 1:04 pm MST

(CREDIT: iStock Photo)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – As online sales rise during the pandemic, so do scams targeting unsuspecting shoppers.

A recent study by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) found that just over 80 per cent of consumers who reported online purchase scams lost money.
That is up from 71.2 per cent just five years ago.

According to the study, one of the biggest complaints that surfaced involved those looking for a furry companion during the pandemic.

“We see an increase in people reporting being scammed when they’re trying to buy a pet online or when they’re trying to get pet supplies online,” said Shawna Kay-Thomas with the BBB of southern Alberta.

“Just after that is motor vehicles.”

Medical and nutrition supplies came third in the report followed by clothing and skin care products.

The report stated that scammers often offered high demand products at lower prices, which increased the desire to buy the item.

RELATED: Better Business Bureau warns online puppy scams surging during COVID-19 pandemic

The availability of certain items like cleaning supplies, toilet paper, and masks also led to an increase in scam complaints.

“People will continue to actively shop online in order to reduce their exposure and keep their families safe,” said Kay-Thomas. “As this virus continues and circumstances change, scammers will try to take advantage.”

When it came to where consumers who lost money saw the products, 30 per cent said they found them on Facebook, with 28 per cent on Google and only 17 per cent directly from the website.

The study also showed that those aged 35-44 were more susceptible and likely to fall victim to these scams than older adults.

However, those aged 65 or older did tend to lose more money in these scams than younger people.

The BBB is asking online shoppers to be vigilant when making purchases, especially with the busy Christmas shopping season right around the corner.

“Check the URL for errors and consistencies, check for poor grammar,” said Kay-Thomas.

“Beware of the domain names that you’re at and search for contact information on that site. Read reviews about the company or the website.”

The BBB also recommends you not make quick purchases when browsing through social media and only but items from sites that have a secured URL.