More and more shoppers are ditching brick and mortar stores and taking their business online. However, online shopping comes with disadvantages: scammers.
The number of complaints the Better Business Bureau has been receiving about counterfeit goods has been increasing. They’ve gone as far as calling this virtual bait and switch an epidemic issue and it’s costing consumers billions.
“When you spend your money you expect to get what you’re paying for,” said Dennis Horton, Director of the Rockford Regional Office of the Better Business Bureau.
According to a recent Better Business Bureau study, a staggering number of shoppers aren’t getting what they pay for when shopping online.
Whether buying from well established sites or social media advertisements, consumer’s won’t know their product is fake until it arrives on their doorstep.
“It’s not easy to detect a website selling counterfeit goods,” Horton said. “Many look very professional and include pictures and descriptions of authentic products.”
“I ordered cleaning sponges once and I know they came from another country and when I got them you just touched it and it fell apart,” said Hannah Pehl, a consumer.
Most of those fake products are coming from abroad, as scammers use sites that allow third-party sellers like Amazon or eBay.
“Counterfeit products primarily originate from China and India,” said Benjamin Well, United States Postal Inspection Service representative.
“I have shopped on eBay before,” said Vanessa Vincent, a consumer. “Sometimes you don’t have good luck with that though, just depending on who the seller is. You just never know if it’s coming from like if it’s actually the right product because it’s people selling it, instead of sometimes businesses.”
Getting scammed by fake products can cause more than frustration, as well.
“As they lack quality control, can contain substitute, substandard, or unsafe materials, and even purposeful contamination,” Weller said. “Can also contain harmful bacteria, mold and dangerous chemicals.”
“The moment you turn over your credit card information you open yourself up for identity theft, especially online because you really aren’t certain who that is you’re providing that information too,” Horton said.
To avoid getting scammed, the BBB recommends reading reviews of the products before pressing buy. You can also check a business on the BBB’s website.