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BBB warns consumers of fake websites

Better Business Bureau information

COLUMBUS — Phony websites can be a very real problem, and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) wants consumers to be on guard when purchasing items from ecommerce websites.

While numerous sites may be legitimate, on many ecommerce websites, anyone can create a personal or company profile, put an item up for sale and take someone’s money in a transaction. The BBB warns consumers to be on the lookout for one such F rated company, USA Motors Deals.

USA Motors Deals claimed it was a company located at 610 Claycroft Road in Columbus, but the recently created websites for their company are registered and based in Russia. Jay Hawthorne, the owner of the business located at 610 Claycroft Road, states he began receiving phone calls about boats last week. He let callers know that neither he nor his employees were selling or storing boats, and suggested they contact the BBB with questions and information on USA Motors Deals.

Better Business Bureau logo 6-2015Three different consumers from various states had online interactions with USA Motors Deals, one going so far as to send them $1,000 for a boat they found for sale on Oodle.

That consumer tried to do her due diligence and went to the company’s website, even engaging with someone on their “Live Chat” feature, who directed her to a false BBB Business Review, claiming the company had been accredited since 2004. Another consumer stated he felt the only option for payment being PayPal Cash was a red flag, and contacted BBB of Central Ohio for further information.

“Unfortunately, scammers are very good at making fake websites look startlingly authentic,” says Joan Coughlin, vice president of marketing and public relations at BBB serving Central Ohio. “We are working closely with the FBI and other agencies to ensure that false websites that come to our attention are flagged and taken down, but we always encourage consumers to go directly to the source when looking for information.”

BBB suggests the following tips for online shoppers to avoid bogus websites:

  • Go to bbb.org to look up the BBB Business Reviews of your favorite online retailers.
  • Type the URL directly into your browser; do not click on a link from an email or social media site unless you are absolutely sure the message is from the legitimate business.
  • On the payment page, look for “https” at the beginning of the address (the “s” stands for “secure”).
  • Look for “Contact Us” information, including a real address, a toll-free customer service number, and other ways to reach the company if you have a problem.
  • Find the “Privacy Policy” to make certain one is posted. This is another way to confirm you are on an authentic ecommerce retail site. Make sure if information is shared with third-parties, you agree with how and why this is done.
  • Use a credit card (not a debit card) when shopping online for greater protections against possible fraud.
  • If a website has a BBB Accredited Business seal, click on it. A real seal should link directly to that company’s BBB Business Review.

POSTED: 06/27/15 at 6:53 am. FILED UNDER: Business, News