Outdoor equipment retailer scams hundreds of consumers
The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers about Gearow.com, an online store that claims to be operating out of Buffalo, New York. Consumers from across the United States report placing orders with the site, and never receiving the items or any form of correspondence.
In December of 2018, the BBB of Upstate New York investigated this company after several customers filed complaints against the company asking BBB for help, while others filed reports on BBB Scam Tracker, assuming the company to be a fraud. So far, customers in 40 states, including Alabama, have complained to BBB that they placed an order with this website and paid for merchandise but never received it. Many said they got fake tracking numbers and that they could not get through to customer service.
The BBB investigation discovered that all the phone numbers associated with the company were disconnected and that the address listed on the website is that of a storage facility in Buffalo.
Some consumers reported receiving packages after months of waiting and determined that the packages were coming from overseas, based on the postage markings.
As of today, the website is still active. The phone number listed on the website is disconnected.
BBB offers the following tips for safe online shopping:
- Know the advertiser. Some of the best deals are only available online but be careful. It’s easy for a fake site to mimic a famous retailer’s website, so make sure you are shopping with a legitimate site. If the site is missing contact information, that is a red flag. Check out retailers at bbb.org before you shop.
- Check a site’s security settings. If the site is secure, its URL (web address) should start with “https://” and include a lock icon on the purchase or shopping cart page.
- Be a savvy shopper. When shopping online, be sure to take your time, and read the fine print before submitting your order. Look for the return policy; although many online orders can be returned for a full refund, others have restocking fees. Some items cannot be returned; know before you buy.
- Think before you click. Be especially cautious about email solicitations and online ads on social media sites. Many sketchy retailers advertise great deals or trendy clothing that don’t measure up to the promotional hype.
- Beware of too-good-to-be-true deals. Offers on websites and in unsolicited emails may offer free or very low prices on hard-to-find items. There may be hidden costs, or your purchase may sign you up for a monthly charge. Look for and read the fine print.
- Beware of phishing. Phishing emails can look like a message from a well-known brand, however, clicking on unfamiliar links can place you at risk for malware and/or identity theft. One popular scam claims to be from a package-delivery company with links to “tracking information” on an order you don’t remember making. Don’t click!
- Shop with a credit card. In case of a fraudulent transaction, a credit card provides additional protections; it’s easier to dispute charges that you didn’t approve. Debit cards, prepaid cards or gift cards don’t have the same protections as a credit card.
- Keep documentation of your order. Save a copy of the confirmation page or email confirmation until you receive the item and are satisfied. Be sure to know and understand the return policy and keep this documented with your purchase records.
- Keep a clean machine. Install a firewall, anti-virus, and anti-spyware software. Check for and install the latest updates and run virus scans regularly on your computer, tablet, and smartphone.