As cyber sales go into full force around Thanksgiving, Better Business Bureau says lookout for social media posts, emails, pop-up advertisements and websites touting too-good-to-be-true deals. Avoid unrealistic sales on iPads, e-readers and other popular electronic gadgets.
- Fly-by-night retailers collect payment information with no intention of shipping products. Shoppers may face financial fraud.
- Slimy sellers ship artificial or aftermarket goods, which often hold little value and break quickly. Consumers may have difficulty collecting refunds.
- Hackers promote enticing ads with low prices on "must-have" merchandise to get consumers to click on malicious hyperlinks or visit dangerous websites aimed at siphoning personal or financial data. Victims may struggle to protect computer files and prevent virus damage.
- Hot-ticket items like laptops, tablets and e-readers are advertised as "free" or priced way below market value; comparable items cost more on other sites.
- Product photos are distorted and descriptions are lacking.
- Websites are filled with high-pressure pop-up ads.
- Product ads are posted anonymously on unfamiliar sites, blogs or classifieds.
- Customer service representatives do not respond to phone or email inquiries.
- Basic contact information is not posted on websites or other ads.
- Business licensing or state registration is unverifiable.
- Sellers' sites are missing privacy policies.
- Check-out pages are not secure; there is no site encryption or "https."
- Electronic checks and wire-transfers are the only accepted forms of payment.
- Websites trigger warnings from anti-virus software or firewalls.
- Internet searches reveal numerous negative reports from other consumers.
- BBB Business Reviews show unanswered or unresolved complaints.
Find reliable retailers at bbb.org, and before buying online, check with BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington for shopping tips.