INDIANAPOLIS — The Better Business Bureau of Central Indiana (BBB) is warning people about a scam that targets people who shop online.
The BBB Scam Tracker receives numerous reports of shopping tricks that exploit PayPal policies by delivering incorrect items and using stolen tracking numbers.
The scam occurs when someone purchases a product using PayPal during checkout. The customer receives a confirmation email with a tracking number, but what is displayed is not what they ordered.
The BBB provided examples of purchasing a six-foot artificial Christmas tree but a Christmas tree with a bottle brush. Another variant of the scam is that the package is delivered to the wrong address.
If the customer tries to fix the error, they either find the website not responsive or not helpful. In some cases, they can’t find any contact information, or no one answers emails or calls.
The BBB says some victims who have filed a claim with PayPal have been denied a refund. They provided an example of a customer who filed a dispute after their item was shipped to a fictitious address, but PayPal closed the dispute after the seller insisted they deliver the package.
This is despite PayPal’s promise of protection which states that customers can file a dispute if their package never arrives, is counterfeit or differs significantly from what was ordered.
The BBB contacted PayPal about the reports and after reviewing the stolen tracking code issue, they responded:
“We have notified various shipping carriers of this issue allowing the theft of tracking data and believe it has been closed. Additionally, we have improved our algorithms to identify and disable these fraudulent malicious actors. In fact, we stop a large majority of these fraudulent sellers on the first transaction through our detection program and have reimbursed customers affected by this fraud scheme even if they have not appealed our decision.
The BBB has provided advice for consumers to protect against this scam, including:
Before paying, find out about your rights and responsibilities. From check cashing scams to scams involving new peer-to-peer payment systems, scammers often take advantage of what consumers don’t know when it comes to process payments. Don’t make a purchase from a shady seller assuming the purchase will be protected no matter what.
Before buying online, make sure the site has real contact details. Make sure the seller has a valid phone number and address on the website, so you can contact them if there is a problem.
Don’t wait too long to file a dispute.Scammers know that PayPal and credit cards have time limits for disputes. They often try to delay the process long enough for buyers to miss the window.
If the price seems too good to be true, there is probably something wrong.Beware if the item sells for much less than advertised elsewhere.
Review BBB’s online shopping tips.Many online shopping scams use similar tactics. Check out BBB’s online shopping tips for more tips and visit our BBB.org/onlineshopping to learn more.
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