By Submitted by the Better Business Bureau on December 4, 2020.
Every holiday season, consumers go shopping for the “must-have” toys on most children’s wish lists. These toys are usually the first to go out of stock in stores, and because they are in such high demand, they can also become expensive and hard to find.
This year, many consumers seem to be searching for Star Wars The Child Animatronic Edition (a.k.a. Baby Yoda) and a realistic toy dog. Recent reports to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) show that scammers have quickly caught on to this trend and are using the popularity and demand for these toys to trick online shoppers out of their money.
How the Scam Works
You are looking for these toys, but they are sold out at every store you visit. So you decide to look online. A quick search takes you to a page that miraculously has the toy in stock. The site may look professional and have original images of the product. It may even offer the product at discounted prices, claiming a “last-minute deal” or “flash sale.”
Unfortunately, many such offers are fake. In many cases reported to BBB.org/ScamTracker, buyers thought they were ordering a high-quality, animatronic toy. Instead, they received a cheap counterfeit version. When the dissatisfied customers tried to follow up with the company, they found that the staff either didn’t respond or refused to provide a refund.
Tips to Avoid Toy Scams
Be wary of online shopping invitations. These days, scammers are setting up sophisticated schemes to trick online shoppers out of their money and personal information. Traps like sponsored ads, fake websites, email solicitations, pop-up online ads and fake social media accounts featuring in-demand products or items you have been looking for in your online searches have been particularly successful at deceiving consumers. Be wary of these online invitations, as many also include malicious links that could give cybercriminals unauthorized access to your device.
Only buy toys from reputable stores and websites. The best way to avoid getting scammed when purchasing toys online is to buy them directly from a seller you know and trust. Research the company, check for customer reviews and complaints and make sure that they have working contact information like a customer service number. Start your research at bbb.org.
Don’t be fooled by extra-low prices. These are oftentimes disguised as flash sales and online discounts. Scammers are also likely to use the popularity of Black Friday and Cyber Monday to lure in online shoppers searching for bargains. However, an unreasonably low price for an in-demand product will always be a classic red flag for this kind of scam. Avoid making a purchase from an unknown or unfamiliar retailer just because the price sounds too good to be true; it probably is!
Be a savvy shopper. When shopping online, be sure to take your time and read the fine print before submitting your order. Look for the return policy. Although many online orders can be returned for a full refund, others have restocking fees, and some items cannot be returned at all; so know before you buy.
Shop with a credit card. In case of a fraudulent transaction, a credit card makes it easier to dispute charges or to get your money back if there is a problem.