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New Study: California No. 26 Most Online Shopping Scams in U.S. / 5 Black Friday Scams to Avoid

A new study shows California has the No. 26 most online shopping scam cases per capita in the U.S. as the holiday shopping season sets to kicks off on Black Friday.

Americans will see an unprecedented surge in online shopping scams this holiday season as consumers are set to spend a record $209.7 billion buying gifts online. A record $394 million was lost to online shopping scams last year and with inflation surging, consumers desperate for deals will be even more susceptible to scams this year.

Social Catfish – a company that prevents online scams through reverse search technology — today released a study on States with the Most Online Shopping Scams after analyzing data from the FTC and FBI IC3 released in 2022.

California residents filed the No. 26 most online shopping scam complaints with the FTC last year with 69.8 per 100,000.

The top five states for online shopping scam complaints are New Hampshire, Vermont, Washington, Oregon, and Virginia. The bottom five are Rhode Island, Kansas, Illinois, Louisiana, and Texas.

5 Online Shopping Scams to Avoid on Black Friday:

1)     Fake Deals on Gaming Consoles: Scammers are advertising incredible deals for popular consoles such as XBOX and PlayStation on social media. Once you click the link, it takes you to a look-a-like website of a major brand. Any gifts purchased will never arrive.

How to Avoid: Triple check the spelling of the URL.  Fake sites are often one letter off.

2)     $100 Gift Cards on Sale for $50: Gift cards are a great holiday gift, and people can save money by purchasing gift cards from resale sites like GiftCards.com. However, scammers are on these sites selling gift cards that arrive with no balance.

How to Avoid: By gift cards directly from brands that you know and trust.

3)     Holiday Puppy Scams: Scammers create a website or social media post with a photo of an adorable puppy on sale for the holidays. They request payment via wire transfer, gift card or Zelle and promise to ship the puppy right away, but the puppy never arrives.

How to Avoid: Do a reverse search to see if your puppy’s photo is a professionally done stock photo used on other sites. If so, it is a scam. Research breeders on AKC.org.

4)     Fake Shipping Notifications: Scammers are capitalizing on the increased number of packages delivered during the holidays by emailing or texting a delivery notification with a “tracking link.” This is a phishing link used for identity theft.

How to Avoid: Only track packages on the official UPS, USPS, or FedEx website.

5)     Secondhand Store Scams: Consumers, especially Millennials and Gen Z, are increasingly buying discounted holiday gifts from secondhand stores such as The RealReal and Poshmark. Scammers offer amazing deals if you pay off the App via gift cards or cash apps.

How to Avoid: Most resale sites have solid security policies if you pay within the App.