How to avoid getting scammed when shopping for popular holiday toys

Scammers offer deep discounts and prey on people's fear of missing out. Here's what to look out for before plugging in your credit card number.

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/ Source: TODAY
By Vicky Nguyen and Lindsey Bomnin

Every holiday season, the most popular, must-have toys are used as bait by scammers looking to lure people into purchasing toys online that never show up or are different from what was ordered.

The Better Business Bureau has issued a warning about this year's popular holiday toys and what you need to watch for before punching in your credit card number.

"They're going to prey on people's fear of missing out,'' BBB New York president Claire Rosenzweig told Vicky Nguyen on TODAY Tuesday. "That's what scammers do. They prey on fears.

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"In all of these scenarios you never get your money back."

The FBI says non-delivery crimes are one of the most prevalent holiday scams, with thousands of consumers affected and millions of dollars in losses.

The toys attracting scammers attempting to trick parents out of their money this year are Funko's Pop! figurines, Hatchimals, Magformers, Spies in Disguise, Baby Shark, Fortnite, Avengers Marvel Legends and toys with tie-ins to "Frozen 2," "Star Wars," "Jumanji," and "Cats," according to the BBB.

A website named Zo Galaxy that advertises popular Star Wars toys for low prices has been flagged by the BBB after it received consumer complaints saying they never received their items.

The site advertises Star Wars toys for prices that are as low as 80% off what they are selling for at well-known retailers, which the BBB says is a red flag.

Nguyen tracked down the address for Zo Galaxy in New York and found what appeared to be an abandoned building with boarded-up windows. The address also comes up as an empty lot on Google Maps' street view, but its website remains operational.

Nguyen offered more tips from the BBB for parents looking to avoid getting scammed when trying to buy that must-have toy for Christmas.

  • Check out retailers you recognize for the same toy to make sure the price is correct, and if a price seems too good to be true, it probably is. For example, a Millennium Falcon Lego set with the original price of $250 is going for under $50 on the Zo Galaxy site that has been flagged by the BBB.
  • Beware of product listings that feature a countdown clock to entice consumers by saying things like "Sale ends soon, don't miss out."
  • If you've already bought an item from a suspect site, immediately let your credit card company know so you can get a charge back, and keep an eye on any suspicious activity in your account.
  • Never buy an item online with a debit card because you normally won't be refunded if there's a problem.
  • Report any problems to the BBB's website.