The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to beware of fake “going-out-of-business” sales stemming from retailers closing because of COVID-19. Before you jump on what you think might be a deal, make sure it is not a scam.

The BBB Scam Tracker has gotten numerous reports about online “going-out-of-business” sales that either don’t exist or don’t live up to the hype.

In numerous reports, frustrated shoppers report to BBB Scam Tracker that the products they receive are of low quality. In one report, the victim thought they ordered $250 worth of “designer” clothes from a New York-based store. Instead, they received low-quality items shipped from overseas.

“What was supposed to be cotton and/or linen was the worst quality polyester,” they told BBB Scam Tracker. “The clothes, in general, were nowhere close to the advertised quality on the website images. Definitely NOT the quality I paid for.”

In other reports, victims say they never received their orders. The scammers steal credit card information when you are prompted to pay. Some phony sites also download malware onto your computer to gain access to your personal information, passwords and more.

Here are some BBB tips for avoiding fake sale scams:

• Know where you shop. Only shop on sites you trust. Be wary of purchasing items from online retailers with whom you are not familiar. Even if you are on the website of a reputable company, double-check the web address before you make a purchase to be sure scammers haven’t redirected you to an imitation site.

• Look for a secure connection and a privacy policy. Before you enter your personal information on any website, check for a secure connection. To do this, make sure the URL begins with “https://” and includes a lock icon on the purchase page. HTTPS ensures that a user’s internet experience is secure as they use their computer to browse the web. The lack of a privacy policy is also a red flag.

• Use your credit card. Paying with a credit card gives you the advantage of being able to dispute fraudulent charges. This is the safest payment method for purchasing items online. Be warned, however, that your credit card company may not keep this up indefinitely. If you routinely shop at shady websites, at some point they may refuse to return your money.

For more tips, go to To report a scam, go to You also can call the BBB at 502-583-6546.

Reanna Smith-Hamblin is president and CEO of the Better Business chapter serving this region. She can be reached at 502-588-0043 or