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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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BBB Tip of Week: October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

By Tyler Russell BBB Northwest and Pacific

Better Business Bureau Northwest and Pacific is participating in the 15th annual National Cybersecurity Awareness Month campaign aimed at raising the public’s awareness of the basic steps needed to stay safe online.

BBB will be releasing cyber safety tips and articles to help consumers and businesses stay vigilant and informed in order to protect themselves in the online world. Articles and a cybersecurity toolkit for small businesses and consumers can be found at www.BBB.org/BBBSecure and at www.bbb.org/cybersecurity.

Purchasing items online can save you money, but beware. BBB Scam Tracker has received numerous complaints from shoppers fooled by ads promoting a hair straightener called Trendy Iron. Consumers pay for the product, but it never arrives.

How the Scam Works

You are scrolling through social media and see an ad in your feed. This new straightening iron claims to produce amazing results. The ad features convincing photo images of women styling their hair with the new product.

You click on the ad and purchase the Trendy Iron. Everything seems normal at first. You receive an email confirming your purchase and guaranteeing a shipping date. But that day comes and goes. When you check the website, there’s no way to reach the company. In other, similar cases, the site is no longer even active.

Trendy Iron is not the only phony product being promoted on social media. Advertisements for clothes, cosmetics, supplements, toys, and even pets (BBB.org/PuppyScam) are all common. Online scams are the riskiest of all scams, with a median loss of $100, according to BBB’s Scam Risk Report (BBB.org/RiskReport). In Spokane, a consumer lost almost $40 to a company after they an ad on a social media site, submitted an order and never received the product.

Protect yourself from an online shopping scam

Facebook, which owns Instagram, reviews its ads for content. But it does not evaluate the businesses behind those ads.

Before buying online, confirm the site has real contact information. Make sure the seller has a working phone number and address on the website, so you can contact them in case of problems.

If the price seems too good to be true, there’s probably something wrong. Be wary if the item is selling for a significantly lower price than you’ve seen elsewhere.

Do your research. Before making a purchase, be sure to check for a secure site (look for “https” in the domain) and read BBB Business Reviews at BBB.org.

For More Information

All month Better Business Bureau North will have scam tips and information available through its social media channels and website. Follow the #BBBSecure and #CyberAware for more BBB tips on staying safe online. Also, plan to attend weekly Twitter discussions at noon each Thursday in October.

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