Dropshipping Scams

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — With the holidays right around the corner, the Better Business Bureau is keeping tabs on the growing popular scams. 

BBB Communications Manager Troy Baker said the BBB isn’t seeing anything specifically Black Friday related now. Although, the BBB is seeing a larger number of online shopping complaints compared to years past.

The complaints stem from the supply chain management method called drop shipping. For example, complaints consist of people purchasing items online and either not getting their product or getting it much later than the package was projected to be delivered. 

Drop shipping is where the retailer does not keep the products in stock, instead it transfers the customer’s order and shipping details either to a manufacturer, different retailer or wholesaler. Whoever receives the details then ships the product directly to the customer. There isn’t anything technically wrong with the process of drop shipping, if the retailer is upfront about it. 

“If it is one of those websites that you don’t know, not a known retailer, that has a little bit of everything, it’s probably a drop shipping site,” said Baker. “Our message is just because you see it on Facebook, just because it’s an advertisement, does not mean it’s real.” 

Baker said drop shipping scam reports are only expected to increase as the holiday season approaches. Reports are expected to ramp up through November and into December.

Other tips to avoid becoming a target of holiday shopping scams include researching a retailer before purchasing an item. This can be done by looking up product reviews, checking the BBB’s website, looking at the company’s ads, comparing prices and looking for early promotions and flash sales.

Also, email phishing reaches a high this time of year, which means avoid clicking on links from senders not recognized.

The BBB suggested checking the reply email address. It should be on a company domain. Also, watch out for websites where items are offered free as long as shipping is paid for. 

“If you find a website that says everything is free just pay shipping, that’s probably not real. The odds are if you look at the website tomorrow it’s still free, and if you go back next week, it’s still free,” said Baker. “What people found was they paid the $10 for shipping, and never got anything.”

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