1 in 4 online shoppers will fall victim to scam, BBB study shows

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A recent study completed by the Better Business Bureau paints a dreary picture of the dangers of online shopping and how often consumers are falling prey to product scams.

The study, released on Tuesday, says one in every four online shoppers will become a victim of a scam at some point online. The most common scam, according to the BBB, is a type of false advertising when a product is marked down in price, making it seem like a good deal. However, when the product actually arrives, it’s either low-quality or a different item altogether.

“We found that counterfeit goods are going up,” said Reanna Smith-Hamblin, president of the Louisville-Southern Indiana BBB.. “There was even one example from a consumer that we received — They wanted a power drill, and they got a screw driver.”

The nationwide study found that consumers had filed more than 2,500 complaints about fake product scams over the past three years. Typically, scams target an older demographic, but this study found that the most common ages to fall victim were people 30-39 years old. 

In one case in Louisville, a woman thought she was getting a great deal on a high-end hair straightener only to discover that she actually a plastic knock off.

“The product was a very cheap imitation made of plastic, with no titanium plates and only has an on/off switch,” Kristin Townsend said.

The BBB recommends that reading reviews for products from places other than the company website can help mark red flags on potential scams. It also says paying with a credit card rather than a debit card can prove to be helpful when it comes to recouping costs after a scam has occurred.

“If it doesn't feel quite right, maybe you just shouldn't do it, right?” Smith-Hamblin said.

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