“Too good to be true.” BBB warns about 3 online businesses scams, offers safe shopping tips

The Better Business Bureau is
warning Hudson
Valley residents to be on the lookout for stores selling electronics
online at low

officials say they have
received reports about three online businesses: Discount Store Outlet, Net
Discount Store, and Ediscountsnetwork. All three businesses operate
similar-looking websites that advertise popular electronics such as phone
chargers, earbuds, and video game equipment.

Consmers have complained that the sellers fail to deliver
purchased items after payment has been sent in.

“Year after year, online purchase scams are the type of fraud most
frequently reported to our ScamTrackerSM program,” said Claire
Rosenzweig, president and CEO of the Metro New York BBB.  “Don’t get pulled in by online
deals that are too good to be true.”

offers these tips for safe online shopping:

  • Beware of too-good-to-be-true deals. Offers on websites and in unsolicited emails may offer
    free or very low prices on hard-to-find items. There may be hidden costs,
    or your purchase may sign you up for a monthly charge without your
    knowledge. Look for – and carefully review – the fine print. 
  • Know the advertiser. It’s easy for a fake site to mimic a famous retailer’s
    website, so make sure you are shopping with a legitimate site. If the site
    is missing contact information, that is a red flag. If a phone number is
    listed, call it to verify its legitimacy before your purchase. Check out retailers
    at BBB.org before you shop.
  • Think before you click. Be especially cautious about email solicitations and
    online ads on social media sites. Many sketchy retailers advertise great
    deals or trendy clothing that don’t measure up to the promotional
    hype. Some
    links may be loaded with malware or lead to scam sites, subjecting you to
    potential identity theft.
  • Check a site’s security settings. While not a guarantee, if the site is secure, its URL (web
    address) should start with https://
    and include a lock icon on the purchase or shopping cart page. Be sure to
    locate and review the Security Policy on the site and understand how they
    will be protecting your information – do they use encryption?
  • Check the start date on unfamiliar websites. Copy the website’s URL and check it with an online WHOIS tool, to see where and when the website was
    registered. Be very cautious if a site was created only recently or appears
    to be based in another country.
  • Review the details. When shopping online, be sure to take your time and read
    the fine print before submitting your order. Look for the return
    policy; although many online orders can be
    returned for a full refund, others have restocking fees. Be wary of
    additional hidden fees that may not be transparently disclosed. Some items
    cannot be returned; know before you buy.
  • Protect personal information. Read a site’s privacy
    policy and understand what personal
    information is being requested and how it will be used. Check if you have
    the ability to opt-out from sharing your information with third parties.
    If a site doesn’t have a privacy policy, that’s a big red flag that it may
    be a scam.
  • Shop with a credit card. In case of a fraudulent transaction, a credit card
    provides additional protections; it’s easier to dispute charges that you
    didn’t approve or to get money back if there is a problem. Debit cards,
    prepaid cards or gift cards don’t have the same protections as a credit
    card. If a seller requires payment through wire transfer or pre-paid gifts
    cards only, that’s a huge red flag to just walk away.
  • Keep documentation of your order. Save a copy of the confirmation page or email confirmation
    until you receive the item and are satisfied. Be sure to know and understand
    the return
    policy before placing your order and keep this
    documented with your purchase records. According to the FTC, when you shop
    online, sellers are supposed to ship your order within the time stated in
    their ads or within 30 days if the ads don’t give a time. If a seller
    can’t ship within the promised time, they have to give you a revised
    shipping date, with the chance to either cancel your order for a full
    refund or accept the new shipping date.
  • Keep a clean machine. Install a firewall, anti-malware, anti-virus, and
    anti-spyware software for network
    security. Check for and install the latest
    updates and run virus scans regularly on your computer, tablet, and smart
Consumers can visit BBB.org, as well as BBB.org/ScamTracker, to check out a business, learn more about scams, and
find additional consumer tips.