California sees spike in online shopping scams as holiday season gets underway

ByDanielle Leigh KABC logo
Friday, November 27, 2020
CA sees spike in online shopping scams as holidays start
The Better Business Bureau is offering tips to avoid common online shopping scams.

Nearly 7 out of 10 people plan to do most of their holiday shopping online amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a NerdWallet survey.

But the increase in internet purchases is leaving consumers vulnerable to scams.

Using the Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker, Eyewitness News found complaints about online shopping scams made up roughly 43% of reports to the BBB in 2020, up from just about 26% over the same time period in 2019.

"It's very easy to click on something and one more click and you have purchased it, or you think you have," said BBB spokesperson John Novaria. "The percentage of scams that are online shopping scams have just skyrocketed."

The BBB suggests consumers avoid impulse buys on social media, research a company before making a purchase, beware of red flags such as bad grammar and the lack of contact information on a website, and place orders only through secure transactions, preferably using a credit card which can make reversing a charge easier in the case of a scam.

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Consumer Reports is warning shoppers about shipping surcharges and suggesting shoppers take extra care to factor shipping costs into their purchases.

NerdWallet also suggests consumers shop early and plan for potential shipping delays. Their survey found many people plan to be done shopping by Black Friday.

"This is a huge concern this year. Because of the demand and slowdown in shipping, a lot of gifts are going to be on back order or delayed in arriving," said NerdWallet personal finance expert Kimberly Palmer. "So if there is one gift you want for sure, do not to wait, order early."

The pandemic has also impacted Black Friday deals. Palmer says retailers have spread Black Friday offers throughout the month. She anticipates Friday won't be the big shopping day of years past.

"One of the biggest trends this year is that there is no one day you should do all of your shopping because Black Friday has been spread out throughout the entire month of November," Palmer said. "Retailers don't want to have big crowds on Black Friday. They want to make sure people stay safe. They want retailers to stay safe too."

And while two out of five shoppers told NerdWallet they plan to spend less this year amid the pandemic, Adobe Analytics estimates holiday online shopping will still reach around $189 billion, up 33% from 2019.

Palmer suggests shoppers take the time to compare prices and look for deals.

She suggests using the website Camel, Camel, Camel which monitors millions of products on Amazon and alerts consumers when prices drop.

She also suggests downloading the Honey browser extension, which scans the internet for deals and coupons, as well as the Shop Savvy App which allows consumers to scan the barcode of an item for sale and discover if it's offered elsewhere at a lower price.

"You don't have to do the work yourself," Palmer said. "There are so many tools that make it easy to compare prices.