Consumer Reports: Beware online holiday shopping scams

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An estimated 165 million consumers go shopping over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, but it can put you at risk for scams. (WLS)

An estimated 165 million consumers go shopping over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, and many decide to skip the malls and shop online instead. But online shopping can put you at risk for scams, according to Consumer Reports.

In August, Kim Russo saw a Facebook ad for insulated cups that she thought would make good gifts. She ordered nine of them for $140 - but they never arrived.

"I feel dumb," Russo said. "I definitely feel dumb for sure. You know...it's too good to be true."

According to Consumer Reports, customers should do some research on unfamiliar websites before they make a purchase.

"A good place to start is the Better Business Bureau where you can note any complaints," said Consumer Reports Money Editor Octavio Blanco. "The BBB also says use extreme caution when ordering from a company whose existence can't be verified, as may have been the case with Kim."

Russo confirmed that the company she ordered from lists no phone number or address.

Shoppers can also look at online user reviews by searching the company's name along with terms like "review" and "complaint."

"Also be careful when making purchases on Craigslist or other virtual bulletin boards," Blanco said. "The key to trust here is buy local."

Craigslist advises consumers to never send money to someone they haven't met and to arrange meetings in public spaces. In some towns, police designate a safe zone for such transactions.

Scammers also use emails purporting to be from delivery services like FedEx or the US Postal Service. These messages state that you have a package and ask for personal information for delivery.

Legitimate delivery companies do not ask for this kind of information from you. USPS usually attempts delivery in person.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2017 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumer.org

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