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How to avoid viral online vintage shopping scams
© Pattanaphong Khuankaew |
Security & privacy

Scammers have a clever new way to trick shoppers into wasting money

While some people still prefer to stroll into a second-hand store looking to score a bargain, many have shifted focus to online offerings. There is a growing demand for trendy, previously-owned items. Tap or click here to see vintage figurines sold for an astronomical price.

But unfortunately, as with most things that become popular, scammers aren’t too far behind. Whether advertising replicas as the real thing or simply stealing your money, criminals are developing schemes to rip you off.  

So, if you love shopping for vintage goods, beware. Read on to see how scammers are targeting buyers with sneaky advertising.

Here’s the backstory

Avid bargain hunters and veteran vintage buyers might have a few go-to websites that they trust for safe purchases and authenticity. But newcomers might not be so clued at what to look for or how to spot a scam.

That is why the Better Business Bureau (BBB) has seen increased reports through its Scam Tracker from defrauded buyers. As the agency explains, tons of vintage items are being advertised on social media.

The problem is the ads aren’t what they appear to be. If you buy an item from one of the scam ads, you’ll either receive a knock-off item that is not worth anywhere near the purchase price. Or, you won’t receive anything at all.

In many cases, swindled buyers have tried to reach out to the company to complain and demand a refund, only to find no response. So not only did they lose their money, but any attempts at contacting the company were futile.

How to avoid vintage shopping scams

When you set out to buy items online, whether it is vintage or new, there are a few things that you can do to ensure your safety. The most important thing to remember is that scammers want to create a sense of urgency.

Here are some suggestions from BBB to protect your money:

  • Avoid impulse buying, especially on social media. Scammers know how to target consumers based on their buying history. Even if an item seems perfect, try not to make an emotional purchase. Thieves will try to make you feel like the item you are considering, especially vintage items, will get snapped up by someone else. Always take the time to research the item and the seller before you click buy.
  • Scrutinize the website before you purchase. Check and find the company’s BBB rating and BBB Accreditation status. Read consumer reviews outside of the company’s website. Check BBB Scam Tracker. Do an internet search of the company along with the word scam. If others have had a bad experience or have been scammed by the company, don’t do business with them.
  • Check for valid contact information. If a business doesn’t have a U.S. or Canadian phone number, consider it a red flag. Remember that scammers may use Google Voice numbers or a Gmail or Yahoo business email address to appear legitimate. Trustworthy businesses should have a working phone number and, preferably, a physical address that checks out.
  • Pay with your credit card. Credit cards offer more protection for buyers than other payment methods, including debit cards.
  • Keep good records. Write down where you ordered the items and take a screenshot of the website and the item listing in case it disappears later. This will make disputing the charges easier if necessary.

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