More and more online scams put holiday shopping at risk


Online shopping scams now account for over a third of all scam reports filed with the Better Business Bureau, and four in five consumers who report such scams lose money, making this the type riskiest scam.

The BBB is warning consumers ahead of the holiday shopping season to be aware of how scammers are deceiving consumers, whether they are actively buying or passively browsing.

BBB’s 2021 Online Shopping Scam Report examines over 55,000 online shopping scam reports submitted to BBB Scam Tracker between 2015 and 2021; as well as a new survey conducted in 2021 to gain insight from those who reported online shopping scams in 2020 and 2021.

Online shopping scams have consistently ranked in the top three riskiest since 2017, and a significant number of people continue to lose money when targeted by online shopping scams (74.8 % in 2021). The median dollar loss for this type of scam has increased in recent years, from $ 76 in 2019 to $ 102 so far in 2021.

Experts are predicting an earlier start to the 2021 holiday shopping season due to supply chain issues, microchip shortages and vacation rentals. BBB warns that crooks will find ways to take advantage of the situation by varying product categories, capitalizing on what people are looking for online, and focusing on the most wanted gifts such as electronics, toys and more. other trendy gift items.

Each year, the BBB Institute publishes a BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report, which analyzes data from the previous year. Since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, online shopping scams have jumped with an increase in online shopping. BBB delved into the data by interviewing people who had reported scams to ask them about their situation.

Whether a consumer actively buys a product or is passively browsing, it appears that activity has had an impact on sensitivity. Sixty-four percent of those surveyed were actively researching a product when they lost money to an online shopping scam. Thirty-six percent of those who lost money were passively watching or not looking.

When placing an order and expecting the item to ship, 32% of respondents said they received shipping tracking information that appeared to be genuine, 30% received false shipping information , 2% received shipping information which they did not verify and 36% did not receive the shipping information. Several survey respondents indicated that they did not suspect a scam at first because they expected shipping delays due to the pandemic.

Analysis of online shopping scam reports submitted to BBB Scam Tracker revealed that over 400 different product types are used by scammers to commit scams. Pets and pet supplies were the riskiest selling category in 2020. Almost 35% of online shopping scam reports were related to pets, with 70% losing money. money and a median loss of $ 750. The French Bulldog was the primary breed used to perpetuate puppy scams.

For tips on how to avoid online shopping scams, visit To report a scam, go to

To learn more about other risky scams, visit

Kelvin Collins is President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving the Fall Line Corridor, which includes the Augusta-Aiken metro area. Direct questions or complaints about a specific business or charity to (800) 763-4222 or [email protected]


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