Beware of online Halloween scams

Staff Report

Experts, including the National Retail Federation, estimate that following Christmas, Halloween is the fastest-growing consumer holiday with projected spending this year to be more than $7 billion. That number is hard to ignore and scammers don’t. With that much money at stake the Better Business Bureau urges consumers to play it safe.

One major area of concern are pop-up retail stores both brick and mortar and online sites. Each year there are countless complaints from consumers who have visited the here today, gone tomorrow costumers online.

There are many consumers who complain about late and non-existent deliveries, poor-quality costumes, inferior merchandise and people having difficulty being able to return items,” said Dennis Horton, director of the Rockford Regional Office of the Better Business Bureau. “You can avoid all of these things by researching companies with the BBB before making any purchases.”

Here are helpful shopping tips for the Halloween season:

  • Research the company. Many Halloween pop-up stores utilize short-term leases and set-up shop in vacant spaces for just a few weeks leading up to Halloween. Businesses may also change their name each year as a way of hiding a poor track record. To make sure the store is 
  • Inquire about customer satisfaction policies and know your rights. Determine a company’s refund and return policies before you buy. If online companies can’t offer concrete commitments on how they will handle any potential problems you may have with their products or services, reconsider doing business with them. Be sure you have a thorough understanding of everything involved before placing an order.
  • Don’t wait until the last minute. Plan ahead and take into account time needed to ship your costume or product, along with any time needed to return and re-order if something doesn’t fit as described or arrives damaged. If making a purchase in-store, try on all costumes and accessories to ensure you have carefully inspected each item before purchasing.
  • Shop safely. Pay by credit card whenever possible because if something goes wrong, you may be able to dispute the charge or cancel the transaction. If shopping online, check a site’s security settings and confirm that the web address begins with “https://.”

Online, consumers also need to be concerned about malicious Halloween websites and phishing emails. Only visit websites that are established and reputable, and always keep your anti-virus protection updated. Phishing emails are always dangerous as they are the most popular method used by identity thieves to steal personal and financial information.

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