Better Business Bureau of North Alabama is issuing a scam alert to the public regarding Hiland Equipment, LLC, a legitimate business whose identity has been stolen. A group of scammers built a fraudulent website, hilandequipment.com, using the business’ information and claimed to sell heavy equipment such as tractors, bulldozers, etc.
Complaints and inquiries reported to BBB allege consumers ordered heavy equipment but never received it. Victims in MN, TX, NC, and CA wired money to complete their purchase.
BBB contacted Barry Hiland, the real owner of Hiland Equipment, LLC located in Fort Payne, Alabama, to make him aware of this situation. He stated that his company only does business through their Facebook page, and he would never request customers to wire money.
BBB offers these 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 shop with a legitimate site.
- 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 items that don’t measure up to the promotional hype.
- Beware of too-good-to-be-true deals. In this case, the item offered for sale was priced at less than half the price of other retailers. Offers on websites and in unsolicited emails may offer discounts on hard-to-find items.
- Be a savvy shopper. When shopping online, take your time and read the fine print before submitting your order. Look for contact information, and return policies and do some comparison shopping, so you know the suggested retail value of the item.
- Beware of phishing. Phishing emails can look like a message from a well-known brand but clicking on unfamiliar links can place you at risk for malware and/or identity theft.
- Shop with a credit card. In case of a fraudulent transaction, a credit card provides additional protections; it’s easier to dispute charges you didn’t approve or get your money back if there is a problem. 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. Know and understand the return policy and keep this documented with your purchase records. According to the FTC, when you shop online, sellers are supposed to ship your order within the time stated in their ads or within 30 days if the ads don’t give a time. If a seller can’t ship within the promised time, they must provide you with a revised shipping date, with the chance to either cancel your order for a full refund or accept the new shipping date.
If you have fallen victim to this scam, please call 1-800-CALL-FBI or 800-225-5324.