Consumer Alert: Tips for online gift shopping amid supply shortages, COVID pandemic

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — The holiday season is approaching and many are figuring out their Christmas lists.

Experts have a warning for those who shop online as supply chain issues collide with the ongoing pandemic.

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Online shopping scams have become the riskiest type of scam since the pandemic, according to the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

“And we know the scammers like to do online shopping because it’s pretty easy: Get in there, hack it, build a fake website, make it look really realistic and then get people to buy, and it’s easy money.”

Roseann Freitas, BBB Hawaii marketplace manager

Ongoing supply chain issues are adding to the problem, Freitas says. With Christmas just two months away, consumers are looking to find the perfect gift — and a great deal.

“And both of those things make them more likely to be scammed because now they’re thinking with emotions instead of a little more rational,” Freitas said. “If demand is high and supply is low, they are not going to discount the item. That’s not how supply and demand works.”

The main thing to remember about shopping websites is looks can be deceiving.

“Just because it has pretty, professional photos doesn’t make it a professional website. It’s really easy to take photos from somebody else’s site and make it look professional.”

Roseann Freitas, BBB Hawaii marketplace manager

Experts recommend to double check the site you’re thinking of ordering from before clicking ‘purchase.’ If the reviews are overly positive, they might be fake. Click here to take a BBB survey to test your ability to spot a fake customer review.

Another tip when using a credit card is making sure the website has an ‘s’ in the https link, which indicates it is secure.

The BBB has some final advice as Hawaii heads into the holiday season.

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“But if you wait till Black Friday, you’re probably gonna be disappointed,” Freitas said. “You really need to do that shopping now.”

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