Verify, verify, verify before online shopping this Black Friday

The Better Business Bureau offers solutions to prevent fraud during the holiday season.
Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 9:31 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) -Last year alone, $380 million in losses were reported to the Better Business Bureau in online shopping scams. And this year it’s easier than ever to fall victim to one or more of these.

“There are so many ways to be scammed online. It’s really tricky. It’s almost like the wild, wild west. You really don’t know who you’re dealing with,” said Ericka Dilworth, Director of Operations for the local Better Business Bureau.

She says scammers know this time of year, you’re looking to save where you can, and get those hard-to-find items to put under the tree.

“There’s been all these complaints and this company is still able to continue to scam people,” said Becca Ucker.

She thought she’d scored a deal, through Groupon on some dog treats, but more than a year after she’d made the purchase nothing has arrived at her doorstep.

“Everyone’s having this issue. They’re not sending anything and no one’s doing anything about it,” she said.

Dilworth says Black Friday shoppers should always check with the BBB on a company, even if you’re going through a major site like Groupon or Amazon and verify the website by looking at when the website was created.

“Go to You plug in the name of the website, and it’ll tell you when it was created. If it was created two days ago, you might take a step back,” she said.

Frank Galeoti was hoping to save some money on natural supplements to help with his diabetes with a promised free trial.

“They charged me $298.77,” he said.

Three weeks later he was charged another $191 for additional products he hadn’t ordered. And while he worked to get his money back, other similar scammers started contacting him because his info now out there.

“They keep calling me four or five times a day at least. Every time it’s different number. They keep saying back in June I ordered a bunch of supplements and they want my credit card to pay for them now,” he said.

Dilworth says it’s a good idea to add “scrutinize the reviews” when you log on to make your list, and check it twice.

“I think if you read them, you know whether they’re fake. If they’re all glowing, look alike, the tone is all alike you’ll get a sense of “um, something doesn’t seem right,” she said.

Also check to see how old the reviews are.

“If they’re all brand new...’This company is fantastic. This company is fantastic,’ you might not want to go that route.” said Dilworth.

The most important thing when online shopping this holiday, according to Dilworth, is to pay with a credit card, to take advantage of built-in fraud protection.

“If they’re asking for a money transfer through Zelle, or Venmo, Paypal even, it can be really tricky you may never see that money back,” she said.