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Massive shopping scams use great deals to fool you

Do you remember that old saying, “If it looks too good to be true, it probably is?” That warning is every bit as relevant today as it was when it originated. Buyers need to beware of retail scams because they’re everywhere — and that’s especially true in the age of online shopping.

Most, if not all of us, have pivoted from in-person, brick-and-mortar shopping to buying most of our goods online. COVID has changed the way we live, and most of us avoid quick store runs for purchases that can be made at retail sites online instead. Looking for deals? Here’s what’s on sale for August that you should buy now.

With that convenience of online shopping, though, comes risks of scams by social media ads offering prices that are incredibly low. Kim addressed this issue recently and offered several good tips to avoid getting scammed.

What are shopping scams?

Tons of websites lure shoppers in by cheap prices on the items they’re looking for. Some of those deals are not legit — they are scams that use social media ads with extremely low prices to lure millions of people to their websites. When you click on the ad and complete the purchase, the items aren’t sent — and likely never will be.

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If you do receive any items from these scams, they’re often wrong, falsely advertised, or cheaply made. The China postage will cost more than you paid for the item, to begin with, so you’re stuck empty-handed or with an item you don’t want.

How to spot shopping scams

1. Look for dot club or dot top instead of dot com

Websites that use this scam and advertise on social media will look legitimate, but if you look closely, the websites that are really based in China use dot club or dot top instead of dot com. Take a close look at the web address. If you see .club or .top instead of .com at the end of the web address, be very wary of the site.

2. You have to pay by bank transfer or money order

Very few (if any) reputable sites will require you to pay by bank transfer or money order. Scam sites, on the other hand, prefer this type of payment because it can’t be refunded. If you think you found a killer deal on gym equipment that runs you hundreds of dollars and you transfer that money from your bank to a scam site, you won’t get it back.

3. Prices look far too low

Good deals are awesome, but fake deals are a major headache. If an ad is promoting a price that’s well below what you can find the item for on other reputable sites, be very wary. If you dig through the website and find that all the prices on the site are well below what could be considered fair or normal on other sites, close the browser tab and do not order anything from the website.

4. It doesn’t accept credit cards or Paypal

Be very wary of sites that don’t accept credit cards or Paypal as payment methods. Scam sites don’t like credit cards or Paypal because it’s too easy for scammed shoppers to file chargebacks or refunds via the protections that both payment methods offer.

Tips for finding good products and deals

1. Check review sites

There are tons of third-party sites that offer buyer feedback. Before you buy from an unknown site, check them out. All you have to do is Google “(name of website) reviews” or “(name of website) scam” and the results should include these types of sites.

2. Set Google alerts for the products you want

If you want to find a good deal on a specific product, set a Google alert for it. This will send you news and relevant stories related to your product alert, and you might be able to snag a solid deal by digging through the links. Tap or click here to find out how to set up a Google alert for your products.

3. Use reputable coupon apps like Honey

There are tons of coupon apps out there to help cut down the price of your purchase, but not all of them are reputable. Use an app like the one offered by our sponsor, Honey. Honey offers both a browser extension and app that automatically scans the web for the best deals and promo codes for the site you’re shopping on.

4. Sign up for newsletters or follow the brand on social media

Brands will occasionally roll out special deals for customers who sign up for their newsletter or follow them on social media. If you want to find a deal on a certain product, follow the brand on Twitter or Facebook, or just sign up for their newsletter instead. A killer deal could land in your inbox without any work on your end.

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