MOBILE COUNTY, Ala. (WKRG) — Monde Donaldson with the BBB Serving Central & South Alabama spoke with WKRG News 5 Tuesday about the online purchase scam report for 2020.

The Better Business Bureau says a staggering 80.5 percent of consumers lost money to online scams in 2020. This was up nearly 25 percent from last year.

The BBB says in just five years, online scams went from 13 percent of scams with a monetary loss to a whopping 64 percent so far this year. 

The Better Business Bureau Serving Central and South Alabama warns in most cases scammers are using online technology to offer attractive deals, but once the payment is made the product or service is not delivered.

 In another version, fraudsters pretend to purchase an item by sending a fake check and then asking for a refund of the “accidental” overpayment; by the time the victim realizes the check is bad, they have already sent the funds from their account.

What was the top reason victims gave for following for these scams?

The enticement of a great sales price.

What platforms were used to defraud consumers?

They were Facebook, Google, Direct merchant website, Instagram and pop up ads on social media.

How can consumers avoid these online scams now that shopping season is approaching?

 If a deal looks too good to be true it generally is. The top motivating factor for people who made purchases, then lost money was price. Don’t shop on price alone.

Professional photos do not mean it is a real offer. Website photos for pets, pet supplies and clothing and vehicles can be faked.

Beware of fake websites: Check the URL, watch for bad grammar, research the age of the domain, search for contact information and read online reviews.

Beware of making quick purchases while scrolling through social media.

Use secure and traceable transactions and payment methods. According to the BBB research, those who paid with a credit card or Paypal were less likely to lose money.

Don’t believe everything you see. Scammers are great at mimicking official seals. This is particularly true with sought-after products during the holiday season.

Make sure the website is secure. Look for the “https” in the URL (the extra S is for secure) and a small lock icon on the address bar.

Report suspicious activities to BBB Scam Tracker ( to help other consumers avoid being scammed.