Shopping for video game consoles this holiday season? Watch out for scams

Shopping for video game consoles this holiday season? Watch out for scams
Scammers are targeting holiday shoppers looking for video game consoles this year. (Source: Pexels.com)

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Video game consoles are one of the most popular gifts every holiday season but shoppers looking online for a cheaper price need to be wary, the Better Business Bureau warns.

Here is how the BBB says this scam plays out.

The online shopper finds the console they have searched tirelessly for. Even better, they find it at a much cheaper price than anywhere else.

Shoppers look over the website and find some positive reviews that lead them to believe the website is legit.

Using PayPal or another type of online payment, the console is purchased. Shortly after that, the email confirmation with shipping information and a tracking number is sent.

So far so good right? Now it’s just time to wait for the console to arrive.

The BBB says if the buyer ever does receive a package, it won’t be the console they thought they’d get.

Instead, the package is a valueless phone cover or similar small object, according to the BBB.

Buyers won’t be able to contest the purchase with the third-party who processed the payment since they technically received a package, the BBB says.

Trying to get in contact with the company will most likely be impossible. Emails and phone numbers listed on the website are probably invalid, the BBB says.

One person went through this experience and reported it to the BBB.

“I attempted to reach out to the email address on their website, however, I received an email informing me that it was not a valid email address. I then attempted to call the phone number listed on the website, [which gave me] an automatic message informing me that the number was not valid.”

To avoid these types of scams with video game consoles, the BBB says to follow these three rules:

  • Research the company you plan to purchase from thoroughly
    • It’s best to purchase items from sellers you already know and trust, but if you decide to purchase from an unfamiliar online store, do your homework first. Read as many customer reviews as you can find, look up the business on org, and do an online search with the company’s name followed by the word “scam” to see if you find any complaints. Make sure the company has legitimate customer service contact information (not just a form you have to fill out and hope for a response) and clear return and refund policies as well.
  • Avoid impulse buying
    • Scammers like to draw people in with “flash sales” and “limited time offers” in hopes you will hand over your money on impulse. Resist the urge.
  • Don’t believe prices that are too good to be true
    • Before you start shopping, find out the price of the gaming console at a major retailer. You can check prices online to get a general idea of what the console is selling for. Keep that price in mind as you shop and be wary of sellers who offer the product at a steeply discounted price. You could end up spending money on a defective or counterfeit product, or no product at all.

If you have been a victim of this scam, you can file a report here at BBB ScamTracker.

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