December 1, 2000BBBs in U.S. and Canada Issue
Holiday Shoppers Seeking
Hard-to-Find Electronic Games are Falling Victim to Bogus Online Advertisements
DC (SafetyAlerts) - Better Business
Bureaus in the United States and Canada today issued an international alert to caution
consumers about web sites that falsely advertise the availability of popular electronic
games and related products.
Consumers in states across the U.S. have contacted the Canadian Council of Better Business
Bureaus (CCBBB) to ask about the legitimacy of two Canadian-based web sites (URLs:
www.ps2storeusa.com and www.ps2storecanada.com) that are falsely advertising a large
supply of Sony Playstation2 products.
The product has sold out in many retail stores, so some parents are searching the Web in
hopes of placing an order for delivery this holiday season.
The CCBBB started to receive calls earlier this week from consumers who visited one of
these web sites, placed an order and hadnt received the product as promised. We
continue to receive more than 20 complaint calls a day, said Bob Whitelaw, president
of the CCBBB, based in Ottawa, Canada. Whats particularly alarming is the fact
that purchasers were asked to fax a photocopy of the front and back of their credit cards
to assure speedy delivery of their gifts. No legitimate business will request photocopies
of your personal financial information.
The BBB has been unsuccessful in its attempts to locate the principals or business owners
responsible for the web sites in question. The company is identified as Playstation Store
of USA and/or Canada, 300 Main Street, Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada E1C 9T6.
Sony Computer Entertainment Canada has advised the Better Business Bureau that any
commercial web site that claims to have thousands of Sony Playstation2
products for sale is making a bogus claim. Sony has asked the Royal Canadian Mounted
Police to investigate and has requested a cease and desist order against the
Senior officials at Visa and MasterCard Canada are alerting their U.S. counterparts about
the potential for credit card fraud.
During the holiday season, consumers are reminded to be extremely cautious when evaluating
advertisements for gifts and products that are known to be in short supply and not
available in their local retail stores.
Some parents abandon common sense when theyre on the search for hard-to-find popular
toys, and scam artists know this. Over the years, BBBs have reported similar surges in
fraudulent offers connected to the sale of Beanie Babies, Cabbage Patch dolls, and other
in-demand toys, said Ken Hunter, president of the U.S.-based Council of Better
The BBB advises Internet shoppers to do business with merchants they know, or look for an
online seal that signifies that the merchant is affiliated with a reputable online
consumer protection program, like BBBOnLine.
If youre not familiar with an online store, do some research before you buy.
Responsible merchants will clearly post their physical address and telephone number on
their web site. Use that information to check the businesss complaint record with
the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org)
or local consumer protection agency, Hunter said.
Popular electronic games and products are also being advertised through online classifieds
and auctions. Consumers are cautioned to exercise similar care when evaluating the sales
pitches of private sellers.
If you are considering purchasing a product from an individual who is selling goods via
the Internet, your legal recourse may not be the same as against a business. Be wary of
too good to be true prices or deals, and if possible, pay with a credit card,
using a secure browser, to ensure the most protection if something goes wrong. If the
seller doesnt accept credit cards, consider using an escrow service, Hunter
Additional online shopping tips are posted on the BBB central web site. Go to http://www.bbb.org/library/Visa-BBB.asp
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