The holidays are right around the corner. That means it’s time to start thinking about decorating for the holidays. Buying visually appealing décor for a home can be complicated. In addition to decorating the inside of a home, many homeowners look forward to decorating outdoors as well.

With online shopping becoming so convenient, the right decorations are just a click away. Be careful though, these decorations may turn out to be different than advertised in the picture. One of the most recent scams making its way through the area is one in which people are ordering Christmas decorations through various websites and/or social media platforms and find out it is an outright scam, or they get inferior merchandise.

The prices seem low, and the pictures look great, but when consumers complete their purchase and wait for their new decorations to arrive, they end up receiving something completely different than advertised – if they receive anything at all.

There are reports of shoppers never receiving their decorations, and others report opening packages only to find flimsy decorations that don’t hold up or are not what they ordered. When they try to contact the company, they find out it no longer exists, or they are told they cannot return the goods.

A consumer reported that they ordered two 7-foot outdoor decorations with LED eyes and sounds. What she finally received after nearly a month of waiting was two rubber 7-inch dolls. The company has not replied to the consumer’s emails, which is the only means of communicating with the business. “The items looked amazing online, but the store is a total scam,” the consumer reported.

Use BBB’s tips to avoid online holiday decoration shopping scams:

  • Do your research before you buy. Before you make a purchase on an unfamiliar website, check out the company. Make sure they have working contact information. This should include a telephone number, email address, and, preferably, a physical address. Look on other websites for reviews of the company and reports of scams. You can always look for business ratings and customer reviews on BBB.org.
  • Be wary of deals that seem too good to be true. Keep in mind that large decorations that involve special lights and technology are expensive. If you find something amazing for cheap, it could be a scam.
  • Don’t make quick purchases on social media. Scam advertisers can track your buying habits from social media ads and then target you with specific products they think you’ll fall for. Don’t buy anything on impulse while scrolling through your feed. Do research first to avoid getting scammed.
  • Always use your credit card for online purchases. Credit card companies allow you to dispute fraudulent charges, a resource you may not have at your disposal if you purchase an item with a debit or gift card.

For more tips from BBB, visit BBB.org. And if you spot a scam, whether you’ve lost money or not, report it to BBB’s Scam Tracker at BBB.org/ScamTracker and the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Your story can help other consumers avoid similar scams.

Marjorie Stephens is president/CEO of BBB Serving Northern Indiana.

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