BBB Shares Tips for Safe Street Vendor Shopping

March 17, 2017

Tulsa’s BOK Center is hosting several NCAA Basketball Championship games and their legion of fans over the weekend. As the March Madness crowd swarms into the area, local businesses will benefit from the economic impact and, unfortunately, scammers will likely seek a piece of the pie. Better Business Bureau® Serving Eastern Oklahoma advises consumers to shop smart particularly when dealing with street vendors. Often, these pop-up merchants do not have a brick and mortar store or even an online presence. So how can you make sure your purchasing from a reputable vendor?

BBB shares these tips for ensuring you’re purchasing from a reputable seller:

1)  Know the return policy. If you are buying a product, make sure you know the return policy before handing over your card or money. If the vendor does not have a physical location, you may be required to pay for shipping and handling out of pocket. Other fees like a restocking fee must also be made clear.

2)  Obtain their contact information. Look for a business card or other information on how to contact the vendor in case you want to return an item later. Always verify that the information you've found is accurate and up to date.

3)  Purchase with Credit Card. One of the best ways to guard against scammers is by paying with a credit card. This benefit only works if you keep a keen eye on your statements. If you discover any charges that you didn’t make, report them immediately to your card issuer. Once you report the error, federal law says you have no additional responsibility for any charges you didn’t make. Make sure to continue checking back with your card company until the issue is resolved and removed from your statement.

4)  Request a receipt. Not every vendor offers a receipt but having one may help you get a refund if you wish to return the product. Some businesses, especially those that use a Square magstripe reader, may offer to email a receipt. If you do provide your email, clarify whether it is used solely for a receipt or whether they will use it to contact you for future marketing.

Bonus Tip:

5)  Verify the merchant name that will appear on your bank or credit card statement. If you use a credit or debit card to make a purchase, the expense will show up on your statement. Have you ever seen an unrecognized merchant name on your statement and had to play detective? Avoid that by asking what name to look for up front.

If you spot a scam, report it to BBB Scam Tracker. BBB also offers information on avoiding ticket scams.