Online discounters often are too good to be true

When it comes to purchasing pretty much anything other than groceries, I do my research. I look at different websites, available coupons and upcoming discounts. Who doesn’t love a good deal?

Online shopping can be a great thing, but Better Business Bureau is seeing reports of bad experiences with deep-discount websites. The BBB Scam Tracker shows nearly 3,500 “Online Purchase” scams reported, with a number of consumers reporting losses in the last week.

There are legitimate sites offering deals, but some “shops” offering products well below the typical price are ripping off customers. You may find these sites on a web search or a social media post. Often, the advertisement is for designer clothing, electronics or sports team memorabilia and the deals are amazing. For example, BBB reports one scam website offers $400 designer handbags for $49. The website looks real: it has the company logo, photos of products and even uses the brand name in the URL.

No matter how good the deals seem, don’t fall for them! In the best-case scenario, you will be purchasing counterfeit goods. However, some shopping scam victims report unauthorized charges on their credit cards after purchase. And as always, sharing personal information with scammers opens you up to the risk of identity fraud.

Here’s how to spot a fake website:

1) Don’t believe what you see: The site may have the logo or design of a legitimate retailer, but that can be easily copied from the real website.

2) Look out for fake contact info: No contact information is a huge red flag and probably means a scam. But some fake websites are crafty. Consumers report calling the toll-free number to confirm the website’s legitimacy. Scammers simply impersonated the front desk of the company.

3) Double check the URLs: Scammers pick URLs that look very similar to those of legitimate sites. Always be sure to double check the URL before making a purchase. Be wary of sites that have the brand name as a subdomain of another URL (i.e., part of a longer URL (i.e. or use one of the new top level domains ( or brandwebsite.bargain). Not all sites using these new domains are scams, but many are so check them carefully.

4) Look for a secure connection: Make sure your personal information is being transmitted securely by ensuring the web address starts with “HTTPS” and has a lock icon.

5) Watch for deep-discount deals: Be sure to comparison shop and be suspicious of a site that has prices significantly lower than those listed elsewhere.

And, as always, if you’re uncertain about a website, do some research. Read what others say about the site, and if you don’t like what you see, steer clear.

Emily Valla is the marketplace director for Better Business Bureau Northwest: Idaho and Western Wyoming. Contact her at 208-523-9754 or by emailing

Emily Valla is the marketplace director for Better Business Bureau Northwest: Idaho and Western Wyoming. Contact her at 208-523-9754 or by emailing

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Source: Business