If you love purchasing vintage clothes, jewelry or other items, the Better Business Bureau is warning you to be on guard.
Scams related to such goods are proliferating, with buyers receiving items that don’t match their description or that are knockoffs, or sometimes getting nothing at all.
The BBB says these types of scams often begin with an ad on social media. The trouble starts after you click through to the website and make the purchase.
The BBB cites the following example of such a scam:
“One consumer told BBB Scam Tracker that she bought what she thought was a vintage Chanel necklace. But what she received was totally different. ‘I can tell it’s fake because the pendant is plastic and … the necklace made my whole neck and chest green.’ When she contacted support, she received an ‘unprofessional email stating the owner has never had a problem before, and so there’s nothing they could do.'”
Fortunately, there are things you can do to lower your risk of becoming a victim of such a scam. They include:
- Avoid impulse buying. The BBB notes that rushing to purchase an item is usually a mistake. Scammers often will try to pressure you to purchase right away before someone snaps up the item. “Always take the time to research the item and the seller before you click ‘buy,'” the BBB says.
- Carefully check the website. Go to the BBB website and look at the company’s business rating and BBB accreditation status. Also read through consumer reviews on independent websites.
- Look for valid contact information. Businesses without U.S. or Canadian phone numbers and addresses should be considered suspicious. “Keep in mind that scammers may use Google Voice numbers or use a Gmail or Yahoo business email address to appear legitimate,” the BBB says.
- Pay with your credit card. Credit cards offer the best form of payment protection, which is especially important when shopping online, as we detail in “9 Things You Should Never Put on a Debit Card.”
- Maintain a trail of records. Write down where you ordered the items and take a screenshot of the website, so you will have evidence if you need to dispute charges.
For more on avoiding scams, check out “10 Common Ways Seniors Get Scammed.”