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SALT LAKE CITY — Imagine ordering something online but never getting it. It is simply called the online shopping scam and it has been a thorn in the side of consumers and consumer watchdogs for years. But 2021 is primed to see this scam explode with more victims than ever as people desperately hunt for hard-to-find gifts for the upcoming holidays.
"We are hearing a lot about supply chain disruptions," Ted Rossman of Bankrate recently told the KSL Investigators.
Rossman explained supply chain issues stemming from the coronavirus pandemic that has impacted everything from toilet paper to cars, will also impact toys, electronics, and other holiday wish list items. So, the advice is to shop early, which Bankrate found most folks are through its survey.
"Half of holiday shoppers are starting before Halloween," Rossman said.
The early start to this holiday season shopping has consumer watchdogs nervous, especially with so much shopping being done online. "The pressure is starting to intensify, which means that the scams are going to start intensifying as well," said Britta Clark of the Better Business Bureau of Utah.
Clark said the BBB always sees a spike in online shopping scams around the holidays. With more folks shopping early, she fears more victims are likely to be ensnared. "They order something off of that website from that company and then they never receive it," she said.
According to data gathered by the BBB and shared with the KSL Investigators, online purchase scams have just moved up the list and are now the "No. 1 riskiest" to consumers. They make up more than a third of all scams reported to the BBB, and four out of five victims lose money.
Take your time, research what you're about to buy.
–Britta Clark, Better Business Bureau of Utah
As supply chain issues make some holiday wants hard to find, shoppers may be especially susceptible to quickly click "buy now while supplies last" and Clark said that is the last thing online shoppers should do.
"Take your time, research what you're about to buy," she urged.
According to the BBB data, so far in 2021, people who bought something and didn't get it lose an average of $102.
If you do shop online, remember this: you only get a short window to dispute a credit card charge – 90 days typically. If a seller tells you that it needs more time to get your order to you because of supply chain issues, that could be a ruse. They could be running out the clock on that dispute window, making it impossible for you to get help from your credit card company if your order never shows up.