With football season kicking off and Major League Baseball’s playoff season right around the corner, fans nationwide are looking to get into the spirit by representing their teams with the newest gear. Many online retailers boast they have the largest selection of “official” merchandise at the lowest prices. However, some websites may be scams and trying to con consumers out of their money.
In 2017, there were more than 1,600 sporting good retail complaints filed on BBB Scam Tracker. Complaints included consumers refund/exchange issues, customer service issues, and in some cases failing to receive their merchandise at all. It is important to note that some of the proceeds from the sale of authentic merchandise fund scholarships, charities, and youth programs. Furthermore, the quality of counterfeit merchandise may be a drawback as well. Many of the laws that protect consumers from harmful chemicals and toxic substances in fabrics are ignored by counterfeiters, nor do they offer standard warranties to protect buyers that are harmed or unsatisfied.
Help protect your blind side by following these BBB tips when shopping online:
- Be wary of deals that seem too good to be true. If the price of an item is significantly less than what it is on other well-known retailers’ sites, this is a red flag that indicates a possible scam.
- Research the company before you purchase. If you want to make a purchase from a company you haven’t heard of before. Check BBB.org to see if they have a BBB Business Profile, or BBB Scam Tracker to see if anyone else has reported them as a scam. Look for contact information on their website and a robust social media presence to help determine if they are legitimate.
- Never wire money or use a prepaid debit card as payment. Both payment types are often requested by scammers and, once you’ve paid, there is no way to get your money back. Instead, make online purchases with your credit card and only on secure (https) websites.
- Learn to spot a fake site. Make sure that the team names and the URL address don’t have misspellings. Do a search online to see if anyone has reported the site on BBB Scam Tracker or online generally.
- Know how to find the business. Always look for contact information and a physical location on any shopping website. If the physical address of the business is not visible on the site, this is a red flag.
- Touch base with the business. Call the customer service number to make sure that someone answers before you pay. Ask them to tell you more about the company. Also, ask the representative about refunds and exchanges.