Better Business Bureau spent the first quarter of 2021 taking inventory of issues and challenges consumers faced last year. What our review revealed can be summed up fairly simply: Shoppers had a hard time.
Nationally, throughout 2020, consumers filed more than 80,000 complaints and submitted upwards of 40,000 reviews about businesses they interacted with in the marketplace. On top of that, more than 46,000 reports were posted to our BBB Scam Tracker tool.
We don’t want a repeat of last year. So, we’re spotlighting a few easy-to-use resources to help shoppers become smarter, more secure. Here are five tools and tips to better inform your purchasing decisions:
This daily email sent by the United States Postal Service lets you preview your incoming mail. You’ll see scanned photos of what to expect in your mailbox on or before the day it arrives. It’s a helpful tool to keep an eye out for mail theft, which often leads to identity theft. You can sign up to preview your mail here.
- Have you been “pwned”?
Check out the website haveibeenpwned.com to find out if your email address or password has been discovered in a data breach. The website will let you know the number of data breaches potentially impacting your online information, which websites that have been breached, the types of information targeted.
- Look closer at product reviews.
Tools like reviewmeta.com and fakespot.com analyze online customer reviews of products to let you know if they are legitimate. Copy and paste a link to the product you’re considering in your browser to find a summary of their analysis.
- How legit is that link?
These days, anyone can set up a website, add a few photos and start taking product orders. Con artists use this access to scam consumers every day. A staggering 80.5% of consumers who reported an online purchase scam last year ultimately lost money.
Bypass the scammers and verify the legitimacy of a website using these tools:
- Securi’s SiteCheck scanner lets you know the safety level of a website.
- Whois.com allows you look up domain information like when the site was registered and who is behind that registration.
- Archive.org has a “Way Back Machine” that lets you view web pages and how they’ve changed over time.
- Check a business’s reputation.
One of the best things smart consumers do is research before they do business with a company. That means looking into their reputation, learning what other customers have said and reading their response to any complaints they may have. You can do this online at bbb.org.
It’s important to note that BBB is not affiliated or sponsored by any of the tools or sites listed above. Being a smart consumer means reading user agreements and privacy policies before entering any personal information, including those associated with tools meant to help become a smarter shopper.
Better consumers do their research. Relying on the right resources can help keep you informed.
Find more tips and tools to help you shop smarter in 2021 at trust-bbb.org.