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As holiday shopping season begins, BBB cracks down on online scams

Cyber Monday brings deals, but watch out for scams
Cyber Monday brings deals, but watch out for scams 03:21

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Better Business Bureau has launched a new scam tracking tool just in time for the biggest online shopping day of the season.

The new initiative launched in early November in partnership with Amazon and Capital One.

It allows consumers to report if they think they've been scammed and search for potential scams through a variety of fields including the website, email address and type of scam. Users can also search by zip code to see what scams are running rampant in certain communities.

Each report is reviewed by the BBB before it gets posted and the nonprofit also then contacts law enforcement in an effort to shut down the scammers.

The BBB said the best way to stop scams from happening in the future is to report it.

"Never feel bad about reporting or feeling embarrassed about your victimization," said Lisa Jemtrud, vice president of community relations for the BBB. "You are not at fault, the scammer is at fault, and if you report that there's been a financial loss, that's when different consumer advocacy organizations and law enforcement can pursue the criminals."

Jemtrude said scammers have gotten more and more sophisticated and it's getting harder and harder to tell what website or email looks legitimate.

How to spot scams on Cyber Monday 01:38

She said the biggest thing to keep in mind when it comes to the emails you might see from big box stores or the U.S. Postal Service, FedEx or UPS that say, "second attempt package delivery" or "confirmation purchase" -- there's a good chance those are fake because these big companies don't randomly send information out to customers in this way.

She also urges not to click on any links in those emails or text message as they could be filled with viruses or scams. Instead, people should reach out to the company by phone or in a separate email to see if it's legitimate.

She said most of all, don't trust everything you see on social media.

"Don't be tempted by those pop-up ads you see on your social media feed or an ad that comes to you out of the blue on your email," she said. "Those are less likely to be legitimate. Time is of the essence on Cyber Monday. We like a good deal, everybody does, but a savvy consumer takes enough time to research before they purchase."

Jemtrud said since July, Minnesota reported nearly 300 scams. About a third reported losing money, totaling more than $93,000 or about $315 per report.

The top categories for scams were online purchases, sweepstakes/lottery, employment, and phishing.

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