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Avoid getting scammed this holiday season with tips from the BBB

Analysts project $380-million will be lost to online purchase scams.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — They say it’s the most wonderful time of the year...

Yet, the holidays often also prove prime time for scammers and con artists, out to take shoppers' money.

“This year, we've seen an increase,” Troy Baker of the Better Business Bureau serving Western Michigan related. “We're estimating around $382-million in 2022 In online purchase scams.”

Especially with more and more folks now turning to the world wide web to check off the items on their holiday wish lists.

“It goes up every year, as more and more people shop online,” Baker said.

Partially on account of the influence of technology, which has made it harder to differentiate fact from fiction and easier to fall for newer, shinier, more sophisticated digital ploys.

“They do a very good job of hiding the scam,” Baker related. “They make the websites look really good.”

Scam artists posing as legitimate businesses use the information shoppers volunteer to harvest their money and even their identities.

The Better Business Bureau offered advice and guidance to steer clear this holiday season. Here’s how to avoid many of the worst offenders:

Fake websites:

“We see a lot of those come through on Facebook, and Instagram through social media. If you see something that catches your eye… do your research before you spend your money. Especially if it's a website you've never used before.”

Payment scams:

“They asked for payment with a specific type of prepaid gift card or wire transfer or through Venmo, or Cash App or one of those payment apps,” Baker laid out a common scenario, suggesting shoppers use debit cards, credit cards or PayPal accounts to secure their money. “Those are not the ways you should be paying… If that transaction goes bad, if you use a gift card, a prepaid gift card, you pay with one of those other payment apps, that money is gone.”

Phishing scams:

“Text messages or emails that say, you know, something has been ordered on your account, or there's a package on the way when you didn't order anything, they want you to click on one of those bad links,” Baker noted, suggesting shoppers first verify web addresses before going further. “Those links don't take you to the real place. They take you to a scammer’s website.”

And when in doubt…

“Use some of that common sense,” Baker suggested. “Shop around a little bit, because they do make it look very good. But in the end, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.’

The advice came as Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel launched her annual holiday consumer protection campaign. 

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