BBB Advice: Buying Electronics Online? How to Navigate the Mine Field of Scam Sites

  
     
December 08, 2010
This holiday season, everyone will be looking for the best deals. The Better Business Bureau warns shoppers that some deals online for electronics are too good to be true. Shoppers are increasingly heading to the Internet to look for deals. According to a survey from Burst Media, 85.3 percent of respondents will shop online this holiday season.

Because of the economy, some retailers will make deep price cuts, particularly on electronics, to lure in shoppers. Unfortunately, not all websites promising rock bottom discounts on electronics are legitimate and consumers need to do their research when shopping for electronics online.

Despite the economy, consumer electronics are still expected to be on many holiday shopping lists. Everyone will be looking for the best deals this year and scammers know that they can take advantage of that by using low prices to trick you into buying.

BBB advises you to look for these five red flags to spot scam electronics sites:
1) Prices are too good to be true. Everyone is looking for a bargain on electronics and scammers use tantalizingly low prices to lure victims in. If the prices for items are well below those of trusted competitors, walk away.
2) Spelling and grammar. Many phony electronics websites are created by scammers overseas and you can spot them because they usually contain spelling and grammar mistakes.
3) Payment via wire transfer only. Scammers often ask victims to wire payment through Western Union or MoneyGram because the money cannot be easily tracked or retrieved in the case of fraud.  BBB recommends always using a credit card to pay for electronics online. If the website turns out to be fraudulent, you can dispute the charge with your credit card and you may get your money back.
4) BBB rating. Always check the company’s report with BBB.  You should always review the business’s BBB report online at www.bbb.org.
5) Fraudulent security seals. Scam websites will often display the seals from certification organizations such as VeriSign, IQNet or TRUSTe without authorization or falsely claim to be accredited by BBB. When shopping online, you want to look for the seals of trusted organizations and confirm that the business’s use of the seal is legitimate. You can typically do this by clicking on the seal which, if legitimate, will link you to a confirmation page on the certifying organization’s site.