BBB Scam Tracker is getting reports of a seasonal spin on social media ad scams. This time, scammers are targeting holiday shoppers with themed advent calendars.
How the Scam Works
As you scroll through your social media feed, you come across a themed advent calendar that looks fun and unique. Judging by the comments on the post, many people have already purchased the item and love it. The post links you to a website where you can make your purchase. Everything looks normal and the price is reasonable, so you place an order. Your credit card is charged, but as the days turn into weeks, you start wondering if you’ll ever receive the calendar.
In most cases, your calendar never arrives because it never existed. One consumer told BBB Scam Tracker: “I saw an ad on Facebook for a Healing Crystal Advent Calendar. I read the reviews below the ad and a lot of people were excited. The website looked professional, ordering was noneventful, and I received a confirmation email and tracking information.” Unfortunately, the calendar never arrived. “So I began some investigative work. What I found demonstrated to me that this was a fraudulent company. There were several Facebook posts and comments from people stating they were scammed.”
If you’re among the “lucky” few who do receive a product from a scam site, it could be a far cry from what you saw online. Another consumer had this experience: “I ordered 2 alcohol advent calendars (bourbon and whiskey) for $49.99 each. Each calendar was to contain 24 wax-sealed drams. They actually contained 4 empty plastic bottles and some small charms.” Victims who reached out to customer service to resolve the issue report receiving no answer.
How to Avoid Social Media Ad Scams
- Research before you buy. It can be tempting to buy something on social media on a whim, especially if it is not too expensive, but resist the urge. Do a search for the business before you click “buy” to make sure they have a legitimate website and contact information. Even if the website has professional looking photos and good customer reviews, it could still be a fake. Check BBB Scam Tracker to see if others have been scammed by similar companies.
- Don’t fall for deals that are too good to be true. If an ad promises an intricate advent calendar containing valuable gifts for an extremely low price, it probably is too good to be true.
- Search for consumer complaints. Do an online search of the product and business names along with the words “complaints,” “scams,” or “reviews” and see what you come up with. If you find reports of others who were scammed or didn’t receive what they were promised, steer clear.