Good Buy or Scam? |

Good Buy or Scam?

Christmas is coming; and the scammers are coming out in droves. There is a decided uptick in gift ideas being advertised on Facebook and other internet sites.

I’ve seen many cute items and even had recipients in mind. Before I send an order, I check a few things. I look to see if the company’s physical presence or mailing address is listed. If not, is there an email link for questions? Does the link work? I tried this today for a product in which I was interested; I clicked to email the company and the link was dead; no message box popped up, so I knew it, too would be a black hole for my money.

The scammers do a nice job of putting up convincing websites often with unbelievably low prices. That should be the first hint the site might not be legitimate. If you cannot find information on dispute resolution or the vendor insists on being paid with a money order or wire transfer, instead of a credit card or Pay Pal, those are also warnings of a probable scam.

Realize the comments may be fake, particularly if there are no negative reviews. If the latter do appear, read them carefully. One site had Better Business Bureau comments and they were not all positive. That site is likely a valid one. This week I saw a video of the cutest wooden disks toy and small hammer. When you hit the toy, the pieces moved, giving the impression there were magnets involved. When I read the comments, customers said the toy was not at all what it appeared to be on the video. In fact, a thread had to be inserted in some specific manner in order to make the pieces “jump,” which was not at all what the video led viewers to believe.

“The best way to beat the scammers is to shop locally where you can interact with actual people.”

If you do order, you may receive the items, they may be poor products and not as represented. Many people do not receive anything at all. When they look again for the vendor’s post a few weeks later, it may be gone, along with their money. Another important caveat, read the fine print. If you subscribe to an online service or buying club — anything that is subscription-based — and you pay with a credit card, the very fine print may say the subscription will be automatically renewed unless you specifically contact them and quit.

You would need to find out what it takes to withdraw. Do they need a letter, an email or is a phone call sufficient? You need to request an email or letter confirming you are no longer a subscriber. Then watch your credit card statement carefully. If the subscription cost shows up again, you will need to dispute the charge with your credit card company. That is when it is especially necessary to have a message from the company.

It is easy to window shop online, looking for ideas, then find a local store for something equivalent to make the purchase. The best way to beat the scammers is to shop locally where you can interact with actual people. ❖

Peggy Sanders

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