Social Media Scam Alert

Published by The Bee News

September 22, 2020

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BBB Scam Alert 

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic is driving many retailers out of business. But what’s bad for businesses often means sales for shoppers.  Before jumping on what sounds like a great deal, make sure it’s not a con. has gotten many reports about online “going-out-of-business” sales that either don’t exist or don’t live up the hype.

How the Scam Works

While scrolling through the Facebook feed or searching the web, an advertisement comes up for a going-out-of-business sale. The company is closing because of COVID-19 and selling off their inventory at a great discount.

If you click on the ad or type in the promoted URL, it leads you to a website selling anything from designer goods to electronics to novelty items. The photos feature products that seem like a great deal and of high quality.

But if you order something, what arrives isn’t exactly what was expected. Frustrated shoppers report to that the products they receive are much worse quality than what was shown online. For example, one victim ordered $250 worth of “designer” clothes from a New York-based store. Instead, they received low quality items shipped from overseas. “What was supposed to be cotton and/or linen was the worst quality polyester,” they told BBB. “The clothes, in general, were nowhere close to the advertised quality on the website images. Definitely NOT the quality I paid for.”

Other times, scammers never intend to send you anything at all. They simply steal your credit card information when you are prompted to pay. These phony sites can also download malware onto your computer and give scammers access to your personal information, passwords, and more.

How to avoid fake sales scams:

Follow these tips to protect yourself from this and other online shopping scams.
  • Know where you shop. Be wary of purchasing items online from retailers you are not familiar with. Even if you are on the website of a reputable company, double check the web address before you make a purchase to be sure scammers haven’t redirected you to an imitation site.
  • Look for a secure connection and a privacy policy. Before you enter your personal information in any website, check for a secure connection. To do this, make sure the URL begins with “https://” and includes a lock icon on the purchase page. HTTPS ensures that a user’s Internet experience is secure as they use their computer to browse the web. The lack of a privacy policy is also a red flag.
  • Use your credit card. Paying with a credit card gives you the advantage of being able to dispute fraudulent charges. This is the safest payment method for purchasing items online.
For More Information
For ways to protect yourself from scammers when shopping online, read For more information about going-out-of-business sales and other issues that arise when a business closes, see BBB Tip: What to Do When a Business Closes… for Good.

If you’ve been the victim of an online shopping scam, warn other consumers by reporting the incident in

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