Buyer “and” Seller Beware – BBB Warns of the Dangers with Online Sales

July 10, 2017

Thomas Johnson                                                                                                           
Director of Public and Board Relations                                       
BBB Serving Chicago & Northern Illinois                         , 312-245-2643                                    

Judith Ruiz-Branch
PR & Community Outreach Coordinator
BBB Serving Chicago & Northern Illinois , 312-245-2516

Buyer “and” Seller Beware – BBB Warns of the Dangers with Online Sales

July, 11 - BBB is alerting consumers to think twice about choosing an online sale meetup. Just last week, a Chicago-area man was killed in a subdivision of South Suburban University Park while trying to complete the sale of his gaming system with people he met on the application version of There have also been several recent area robberies reported from people who have met with someone pretending to be a buyer online.

With the growing popularity of online shopping and selling, more and more consumers are using the internet, and mobile apps to shop for items on websites like,, Facebook marketplace, and Craigslist.

According to the Pew Research Center, roughly eight-in-ten Americans are online shoppers and 15 percent buy online on a weekly basis. It’s also estimated that over two billion mobile phone or tablet users will make some form of mobile commerce transaction globally by the end of 2017, up from 1.6 billion in 2016, according to a new report. With this growing popularity comes a growing safety concern for both buyers and sellers.

Chicago and Northern Illinois BBB president and CEO Steve Bernas says, “We are urging consumers to err on the side of caution when shopping online or via mobile devices, especially when engaging in face-to-face transactions as these websites and mobile commerce applications often require. This is a disturbing trend consumers need to know about because people are being put in harm’s way. There are easy steps to stay safe we hope people consider in this era of let the buyer and seller beware.”

BBB reminds consumers, the Chicago Police Department has declared them self a “safe zone” and welcomes all consumers to complete any online transactions in the parking lot or lobby of any of their locations.

BBB urges consumers to follow these tips when making purchases online or mobile purchases:

  • Never give out personal information like your address or phone number
  • Always choose a public space that is well lit and monitored to complete transactions in person
  • Always bring your cell phone with you
  • Always bring someone else to accompany you – or make sure you tell someone exactly where you’re going

You can find additional information on our Tips for Smart Shopping Online here.

Search our databases anytime at no cost to find trustworthy businesses and valuable consumer information. Visit Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2016, people turned to BBB more than 167 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for the local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as home to its national and international programs on dispute resolution, advertising review, and industry self-regulation. BBB Serving Chicago and Northern Illinois serves 19 counties in Illinois.