Better Business Bureau issues warning about increase in summer scams

ByABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Sunday, July 2, 2023
Better Business Bureau issues warning about increase in summer scams
The weekend leading up to July 4 holiday is a prime time for scammers looking to take advantage of shoppers, BBB says.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The weekend leading up to July 4 holiday is a prime time for scammers looking to take advantage of shoppers. Additionally, this year Amazon's Prime Day is close behind the holiday, offering even more discounts for online shoppers.

Amazon Prime Days has become such a huge event that people might get caught up in the excitement and fall for phishing scams, misleading advertisements, and fake websites. When making many purchases, it's easy to lose track of exactly what you bought and where you shopped.

Con artists will create lookalike websites that, at first glance, appear to belong to a trusted retailer. But when you look more closely at the URL, you'll notice that the domain name is slightly different. Always make sure websites use the correct business name spelling and have legitimate contact information and customer service numbers.

BBB Tips to avoid online shopping scams this Prime Day:

Professional looking photos do not mean it's a real offer. Scammers often steal photos off other websites, so don't believe what you see.

Beware of fake lookalike websites: Check the URL, watch for bad grammar, research the age of the domain, search for contact information, and read online reviews. If something is sold out everywhere, don't be tempted by a website that claims to have lots of the product at a seemingly great deal. Scammers often trick shoppers by offering the most popular products at low prices.

Make sure the website is secure. Look for the "HTTPS" in the URL (the extra "s" is for "secure") and a small lock icon on the address bar. Never enter payment or personal information into a website with only "HTTP." It is NOT secure.

Pay with a credit card. It's always best to make online purchases with your credit card. If any shady charges turn up later, you will be able to contest them through your credit card company. Avoid any retailer that asks you to pay by digital wallet apps, prepaid money cards, or other non-traditional payment methods.

The 4th of July holiday traditionally is also a big time for shopping scams. The Better Business Bureau warns there is cause to be concerned and individuals need to be proactive to avoid being ripped-off.

Here are some scams you should be on guard for:

Patriotic phishing emails. Cyber-criminals will send out eCards hoping they'll be mistaken as coming from a family member or friend. Their goal is to have you open the email and download malware to your device which could then send sensitive personal information to the crooks.

Fake July 4th sales. Scammers will set up realistic looking sales on social media sites designed to get you to click on the link and provide your credit card information to make the purchase.

Fraudulent show and event tickets. Many communities and organizations sponsor fireworks and other special shows. Scammers will offer fake tickets at "special prices" on sites like Craigslist and others.

Veterans and charity scams. Appealing to the desire of individuals wanting to support veterans and other charities, scammers will set up fraudulent websites seeking donations. Use caution if you're planning to offer monetary support. If anyone reaches out to you trying to solicit funds for a charity, never give them financial information over the phone, and always check directly with the charity to make sure it's for real.

To prevent falling victim:

Never click on links in emails or text messages from individuals you don't know.

If shopping online, do so only at trusted retailers.

Never pay for tickets with a money transfer or gift card. Use only trusted ticket brokers. Research them on

Make sure the charity is registered with the Attorney General's Office and has a report on BBB's Wise Giving Alliance at

With Summer, most people look to take some time off to enjoy the warm season. However, this is peak season for fraudsters and con artists, so you can expect scams to abound.

"Vacation rentals are always at the top of the list," says Steve J. Bernas, president, and CEO of the Better Business Bureau. "And this year, given the expense of travel or taking any vacation, consumers need to be extra vigilant."

During the hottest weather, con artists will call people threatening to cut off their electricity if they don't pay a fee immediately over the phone. Watch out for impostor door-to-door utility workers offering to upgrade, fix, or inspect your air conditioner. Never let any stranger into your home unless you know the company and reached out to them to do repairs or maintenance.

Summer also brings out the storm chasers and other home repair scammers. They often go door-to-door, offering to repair damage resulting from a storm, or they may claim your roof or driveway needs repair. These scammers are always ready to give you a great deal. After you make the down payment, they could disappear. Or, if they do the work, it will be of poor quality and done with substandard materials.

"To prevent yourself from becoming a victim, it's best to shy away from anyone who knocks on your door with a too-good-to-be-true offer, and always check company backgrounds before buying. A great place to start is at," adds Bernas.

Other summer scams include:

Summer Job scams. Job "opportunities" will surface on social media sites offering high-paying positions that require little or no experience. Beware because the ads for the jobs are vague. Often, the interviews are conducted via email and text message. The goal is to separate the students from their money and personal and financial information.

Ticket rip-offs. These types of scams are surging with superstar artists on tour and big events like Nascar coming to town. Scammers will post available tickets - that don't exist - for concerts, sports events, and festivals on sites such as Craigslist. Never wire money or send cash for tickets, and be careful of ticket printouts, as scammers will often sell the same printout to multiple individuals.

To protect yourself, BBB recommends:

Check for business reviews and ratings and look for the BBB Seal, The Sign of a Better Business.

Never pay by gift card or wire transfer to anyone you don't know.

Never provide personal or financial information in response to unsolicited emails or texts.

In vacation rentals, if asked to leave the original website to continue the transaction on another site or via email, don't do it.

When the deal seems too good to be true - walk away.

Before continuing your transaction, do an online search of the individual or business using that name and the word "scam."