Consumer Reports: How to avoid online holiday shopping scams

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Are you planning to skip the malls, and shop online, this holiday season?

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The popularity of online shopping, has also given rise to an explosion of online shopping scams. In a partnership with Consumer Reports, 7 On Your Side's Michael Finney tells us what to look out for.

When Kim Russo walks her dogs, she usually brings along her favorite insulated cup. So, she wanted to give some as gifts.

After seeing a deal for them on a Facebook advertisement in August, she ordered nine of them!

The cost? Around $140. But, so far, she did not receive her cups.

"I feel dumb. I definitely feel dumb for sure that I, you know, It's too good to be true," Russo admits.

Consumer Reports says if you have never heard of the website, do some research before you make the purchase.

"A good place to start is the Better Business Bureau, where you can note any complaints," said Octavio Blanco, Consumer Reports Money Editor. "The B.B.B. also says use extreme caution when ordering from a company whose existence can't be verified, as may have been the case with Kim."

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Russo says she cannot get in contact with the business where she bought the cups. "There is no way to get in touch with them, there's no phone number, no mailing address."

Another good source of information? Online user reviews.

Type the name of the company, and keywords "review' and "complaint."

For example, a sports gear company has several customers who claim they received knock-offs.

"Also, be careful when making purchases on Craigslist or other virtual bulletin boards. The key to trust here is buy local," Blanco advises.

Craigslist advises never sending money to someone you have not met.

Arrange any meetings in a public place. For instance, in some towns, the police designates a safe zone for such transactions.

Finally, another scam can come in an e-mail purporting to be from a delivery service, like FedEx or the U.S. Postal Service. It says, "you have a package," and asks for personal information to enable delivery. Do not give it.

Legitimate delivery companies do not ask for this type of information. The U.S. Postal Service will usually attempt delivery in-person.

Written and produced by Justin Mendoza

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2017 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit

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