Better Business Bureau warns against vacation scams

LINCOLN, Nebraska (KOLN) – It is estimated that hundreds of millions of dollars have been lost to fraud this year, with holiday shopping a big driver. The Better Business Bureau is calling the next few months “open season” for victim-targeting scammers, saying data shows the most vulnerable victims aren’t who you think they are.

This year the FTC has received more than 200,000 complaints of online shopping fraud, with total losses exceeding $270 million. The BBB says their data shows that more than 30% of scams start on fake websites and social media.

“You almost feel like people are walking into the firefight without knowing it,” said the BBB’s Josh Planos.

Online shopping losses are estimated to exceed $380 million this year, with the age group most at risk being 18 to 24, the BBB said.

“Because of things like social media advertising and people shopping online more than ever, we have a new market that scammers can penetrate,” Planos said.

Most of these scams start with an ad on your social media timeline.

“These things might advertise the latest product or high-end wallet that you know, and you click on it, and it takes you to a website that you’ve never seen before,” Planos said.

Here are some signs that should make you think twice. The first is a typo in the URL.

“They could be, and people aren’t double- or triple-checking that URL,” Planos said.

Next is the price is too good to be true.

“You want to think you have the golden ticket, you want to think you’re getting a price that nobody else is getting,” Planos said.

Third, if they ask you to pay with an unusual payment method, such as Zelle or cryptocurrency.

“If you’re going to pay, it’s best to pay with a credit card for maximum protection against loss,” says Planos.

If you doubt that the site is genuine.. take a moment to double check. Google its name and look it up on the BBB website.

Finally, know when to call it a loss and report it as fraud, because usually after you check out and pay for shipping once, the scammer will ask for more.

“So maybe an extra $10.99 won’t be the end of the world, but it will become an extra $10.99 and an extra $10.99, and the product didn’t exist in the first place,” Planos said.

In general, it’s best to forget about clicking on social media ads altogether, and going directly to reputable, well-known websites or shopping in person are simple ways to minimize your risk.

If you have been the victim of any scam similar to this one, please send your story to TURNTO1011@1011NOW.COM.

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