Don’t join scammers for a threadbare ride on the discount coattails of fake retailers.
6 Red Flags of “Going-Out-of-Business” Online Scammers
The ads pop up on your Facebook newsfeed and your favorite online news websites, just enticing enough for you to click to find out more. With a troubled economy, plenty of companies are going out of business, so it may seem smart to save money on clothing or other retail goods if a retailer is throwing one last “going out of business” sale.
But what if that online ad offering huge discounts on designer clothing isn’t what it seems? The Better Business Bureau (BBB) Scam Tracker is getting more reports lately on self-proclaimed going-out-of-business sales “that either don’t exist or don’t live up to the hype,” according to the BBB.
“Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic is driving many retailers out of business,” says the BBB. “What’s bad for businesses often means sales for shoppers, but before you jump on deals, make sure you aren’t falling for a con.”
Click or swipe for 6 red flags that could signal a going-out-of-business sale scam.
1. The retailer is unfamiliar
No one can know about every retailer in the world, but if you’re drawn to a clothing ad for a company you’ve never heard of, don’t be too quick to click the checkout button.
First, look up the company on the BBB website to see what kind of grade it maintains and read reviews. Also perform an online search for the company’s address and phone number to see information what pops up.
2. Suspiciously huge discounts
Any time you see a dress or suit advertised for a price where the retailer couldn’t possibly make any or much of a profit at all, that could be a red flag. At the same time, reputable retailers frequently offer half-price or lower discounts on out-of-season apparel, for example.
In other words, the ad could be a scam or it could just as easily be legit. Always do your online research before purchasing, since some scammers will mail poor-quality clothing or products. “Other times, scammers never intend to send you anything at all,” says the BBB.
3. Weirdly worded reviews
If you see an outfit or product you love at a great price, it’s a good idea to read reviews of the item first to gauge overall buyer satisfaction. If you see review after review obviously written in a way no native English speaker would talk – “all retail happy shop experience,” for example – be careful.
Those reviews could be planted by the scammer company to reassure you that it is legitimate.
4. An online search reveals the retailer’s scammy reputation
When you put the company’s name in a search engine and three pages of consumer rip-off complaints appear in the results, don’t even bother researching that company further. Those people writing bad reviews are warning you to stay away to avoid your own bad experience.
5. You’re redirected to an imitation web address
The BBB recommends double-checking the retailer’s website address to make sure scammers haven’t directed you to an “imitation site” that looks like the legitimate retailer’s website.
Signs of a possible copycat website include a URL with extra words or characters, a foreign domain address or unusual domains such as those that end with unfamiliar words such as “bargain” or “app,” according to AARP.
6. The site doesn’t have a secure connection
Don’t even think about purchasing from and providing your credit card number to an online retailer whose web address doesn’t begin with “https://,” which signals that your credit or debit card information is secure. Also make sure the address has a lock icon on the purchase page.
This article by Deb Hipp was originally published on Debt.com.
Published by Debt.com, LLC