Online purchase

Online shopping scams; BBB warns holiday shopping is at risk

Experts predict an earlier start to the 2021 holiday shopping season due to supply chain issues, microchip shortages and holiday hiring. BBB warns that scammers will find ways to take advantage of the situation by varying product categories, capitalizing on what people are looking for online and focusing on the most sought after gifts such as electronics, toys and other fashionable gift items.

“These critical findings can help guide our scam prevention outreach to those most vulnerable to these types of scams,” said Melissa Trumpower, executive director of the BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust, the foundation of BBB. “Online shopping scams don’t just affect those who lose money. For every victim who lost money, it meant less income to buy groceries, gifts, pay utility bill or loss of personal information that could lead to identity theft.”

Each year, the BBB Institute publishes a BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report, which analyzes data from the previous year. Since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, online shopping scams have surged with an increase in online shopping. BBB dug deeper into the data by surveying people who had reported scams to ask them more about their situation.

Whether a consumer is actively buying a product or passively browsing, it appears that this activity has had an impact on sensitivity. Sixty-four percent of survey respondents were actively researching a product when they lost money to an online shopping scam. Thirty-six percent of those who lost money were looking passively or not looking.

When placing an order and expecting the item to be shipped, 32% of respondents said they received shipping tracking information that appeared genuine, 30% received false shipping information , 2% received shipping information they did not verify, and 36% did not. I am not receiving shipping information. Several survey respondents indicated that they did not suspect a scam at first because they expected shipping delays due to the pandemic.

Analysis of online shopping scam reports submitted to BBB Scam Tracker revealed that over 400 different types of products were used by scammers to perpetrate scams. Pets and pet supplies was the riskiest selling category in 2020. Nearly 35% of online shopping scam reports were related to pets, with 70% of people losing cash and a median dollar loss of $750. The French Bulldog was the breed most used to perpetuate puppy scams.

For advice on how to avoid online shopping scams, visit

To report a scam, go to

To learn more about other high-risk scams, go to and visit our scam news feed.

About BBB
For more than 100 years, the Better Business Bureau has helped people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2020, people turned to BBB over 220 million times for BBB business profiles on 6.2 million businesses and charity reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at The International Association of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for local, independent BBBs in United States, Canadaand Mexico.

About the BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust
The BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust (BBB Institute) is the charitable arm of the Better Business Bureau. Our mission is to educate and protect consumers, establish best practices for businesses, and solve complex market problems. Our consumer education programs, which include a wide range of fraud prevention and education resources, are delivered digitally and in person by BBBs serving communities across North America. You can find more information about BBB Institute and its programs at


Related links