Better Business Bureau Issues Online Christmas Scam Alert

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According to the Better Business Bureau, A McCreary County man and his sister in Arizona said they were taken for hundreds of dollars while seeking bargains for Christmas toys on a website called "santastoydepot.com."

The man told The Better Business Bureau serving Central & Eastern Kentucky that his sister came across the website, and shared it with him and his wife so they could buy some popular toys for their children at low prices. The site also offered "free shipping."

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The man placed an order last Saturday for a girl’s bicycle for approximately $50, and paid by debit from his checking account. Less than an hour later, he checked his account online and found that a charge for $500 had posted. When he called to warn his sister in Arizona, she found that her account had been hit for $1800. They are unable to contact the company because there is NO contact information of any kind for the company behind the website – no address, no phone number. Their emails have been ignored.

The man has contacted his bank since the charge is reflected as "pending." His sister was not so lucky…her $1800 was taken from her account.

When BBB investigated the website, there was no indication of the site being secure or encrypted on the page where personal and payment information is requested. Investigation of the website domain showed no location for the company. A search of various Internet sites and social media shows similar reports by other consumers around the country about their experiences with this website in recent months.

Don’t let the Grinch steal your Christmas! BBB offers this advice:

– Don’t fall for too-good-to-be-true offers like very low prices for popular items and free shipping.

– Always check out a business at www.bbb.org (Locally, call 859-259-1008 or 1-800-866-6668 for assistance.)

– Don’t order from websites that have no contact information at all other than an e-mail address. Then there is no way to try to get recourse.

– Consider using a credit card rather than debit when ordering online. Then if a problem occurs or you don’t get your order, federal law allows you to dispute the charge with your credit card provider.