Many Americans consider Halloween to be the most enjoyable holiday of the year. They bring out the Halloween decorations. They create or find the perfect Halloween costume. These enthusiasts have been working on creating the perfect mood for weeks. It looks like Halloween 2021 will be one of the best Halloweens in years.

Families are ready to bring out the Halloween candy and celebrate. The overall Halloween season is already off to a great start and there is still a bit of time to prepare. Put down your Halloween mask as you get ready for a bit of trick-or-treating!

While preparing to celebrate Halloween 2021 in style, be mindful of those who are always looking for a fast buck or an easy mark.  Some unscrupulous dealers will use a Halloween sale as a chance to run off with some fast money.  Doing your Halloween shopping this year, be on the lookout for deals that seem just a bit too good to be true.  

Holiday scams are unfortunate, but they are a fact of life during Halloween. Holiday scams can take on many appearances – fake event tickets, misleading advertisements, shopping scams, and more.

Top 5 Halloween Scams

So how to enjoy the Halloween mood this year without scams or other drama? Be on the lookout for common issues and the top Halloween scams.

1. Shipping Scams

You find a great Halloween sale. You shop for a great costume idea and pay a bit extra to have it shipped straight to you as quickly as possible. But it never arrives. This is the basis of a shipping scam. One PissedConsumer user had a similar experience in her 7th Avenue Costumes review.

According to the reviewer (#2273393), she did exactly this. She ordered a costume for her child and paid as much for shipping as the costume to be sure it arrived on time. Unfortunately, for the reviewer, her costume never arrived at all and she has not been able to get a refund.

Halloween review 7th avenue costumes

How to handle a shipping scam

Judging by 7th Avenue Costumes Halloween complaints and many others, ordering items, and not seeing them delivered isn’t uncommon. If a store doesn’t deliver your item, you have a few options.

  • Check first to see if there are any warnings about long waits for shipping or if there is tracking information available giving you an idea of issues with shipping.
  • If the company didn’t deliver the items you purchased during the Halloween sale and they won’t refund your money, you can send your complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
  • Another option if the company won’t deliver your Halloween items and won’t issue a refund, you can report the issue to your credit card company and use a charge-back to get your money back.
  • Try to avoid ordering at the last minute when shipping delays might spoil a big event. Order with plenty of time to accommodate transportation issues or weather delays.

2. Return and Refund Scams

Some companies are great at providing Halloween ideas, but when you order the item (and pay for it, of course), you wind up in possession of something far different than what you thought you were getting. These are return and refund scams.

Now, it’s not a scam if a reputable company sends you something that doesn’t live up to your expectations, of course. In those situations, you can simply return the item and the company will issue a refund. In other situations, however, some companies fail to let you cancel or return the order.

In her Fashion Nova Halloween review, one customer (#2967071) explains that she “I couldnt cancel or return the first payment of $104. This is horrible customer experience because I should be able to cancel an order due to a malfunction…. She further notes that “Im now out $213 when I was only planning to spend $109.”

Fashion Nova Halloween review about returns

How to handle a return or refund scam

You can often avoid issues with returns or refunds by reading carefully. While some cases like the Fashion Nova Halloween complaint above on the inability to cancel, other complaints stem from limited return or refund policies.

  • Be sure to read a company’s refund and return policy before buying items. If you can’t return or you have to pay the shipping for returns, it may not be worth it to send anything back.
  • If you’re not sure about a company’s refund or return policy, just check for online reviews. Other frustrated customers will let you know if it’s too hard to return something.

3. Misleading Advertisement Scam

Ah, the old bait and switch. A misleading advertisement scam typically involves an advertisement for something that looks wonderful and well-made. But when your item arrives, the special offer you thought you were getting isn’t so “special.” Or perhaps it’s too “special”, depending on the circumstances of what winds up in your mailbox.

In her NoraCora Halloween complaint, one frustrated customer called the dresses she ordered from the company the “cheapest, ugliest pieces of garbage I have ever seen in my life.” She said that instead of being “cotton and cotton-blend dresses” the outfits she received are “NOTHING like what they appear to be in the photos.”

How to handle misleading Halloween ad scams

Nobody likes to feel like they were tricked by false advertisements. If you find yourself considering a deal that seems a bit too good to be true, consider the source.

  • First, check the website and the competition to see if the price for an item is realistic. If it’s half or a third of what competitors are charging, there is reason to be suspicious.
  • Check for shipping rates. A low price can quickly be offset by shipping rates or other “fees” that get added to the bottom line.
  • Be proactive and read reviews online. Are others complaining that they didn’t get what they ordered? You can expect the same when you place your order as well.

4. Fake Event and Ticket Scams

Halloween fun is coming back to life in 2021, and that means plenty of special events are taking place. As you head off in search of Halloween fun and games, be mindful that not all events – and certainly, not all tickets – are created equally.

Be on the lookout for fake tickets or even completely fake events. A scammer might sell you tickets to an event that doesn’t exist. He gets the money, and you get exactly nothing. Ticket prices might become inflated, or you send money for tickets to a real event and get nothing in return, or your early ticket pass doesn’t match the ticket date.

One frustrated ticket buyer complained about ticker price changes in the Universal Studios Orlando Halloween review (#2732614). This consumer questions the company, “How can you raise the prices on the tickets for Halloween Horror Nights just because they are selling? one week ago I could get a RIP for 199.00 two days ago its was 229.00 now its 299.00 and other nights its higher.” They further note that “I had planned on taking my vacation to universal but cant afford to go now.

Halloween review about raise in ticket price

How to handle a fake event and ticket scams

The best way to handle the possibility of an event or ticket scam is to work ahead of time and do your research.

  • Buy your tickets well in advance.
  • Buy tickets only through the official website of the event or vendor, not through a third party.
  • Skip the downloadable tickets from internet marketplaces or third-party sellers.
  • Look out for spelling mistakes, different dates, and the right type of paper if you’re buying paper tickets in person.
  • Use a payment processor like PayPal or other mobile wallets to avoid giving out your bank or credit card information.

5. Fake Website Scams

There are many places to sell online if you’re a vendor. Amazon, Etsy, and eBay may be the top choices for most vendors, authentic and inauthentic alike. All you need to do to sell on these platforms is set up a “store” on the site and start collecting orders.

Not all vendors are legitimate, however. Some sellers set up a fake “store” or website hoping to collect orders – and payments – and then never send the items. These fake website scams work best during holidays when buying and selling are time-sensitive, and customers feel rushed to make choices and buy.

When the fake seller has collected enough, he simply closes the site or shop and disappears with the customer’s money.

In his Yahoo Halloween review (#2859171), one customer explained how a company was advertising a mask that was out of stock. When he tried to buy the mask, he was told it was out of stock. When he contacted the company, they claimed to be “working to take the ad down.” Weeks later, the ad for the out-of-stock mask was still being displayed on Yahoo ads and the reviewer recommended that others steer clear.

Yahoo Halloween review bogus ad

Scams often work because buyers feel like a deal is too good to pass up or that there is pressure to buy without doing a bit of research first. To avoid issues like fake websites or ads, slow down a bit.

  • Consider buying from well-known and trusted retailers you’ve worked with before.
  • Look for the contact information on a website. If you can’t find a way to get in touch with the company, it is likely that the company has no intention of working with customers if something goes wrong.
  • Only buy through a secure website. You’ll know that it’s secure because the URL will start with https:// instead of just http://. Even then, strongly consider using a mobile wallet like Apple Pay or PayPal to protect your credit card and banking information.
  • Read the reviews before buying. If you’ve never heard of a store and can’t find reviews for the seller, you’re right to be cautious. A legitimate seller will likely have at least a handful of reviews.

This Halloween season, enjoy the fun without the drama. Skip Halloween scams and instead focus on brilliant Halloween costume ideas or party fun. Skip the real-life horror stories of Halloween shopping scams. Instead, do a bit of research to learn about companies and Halloween shopping expectations ahead of time. Be sure to consider leaving a Halloween review on PissedConsumer to help others, too.

Freelance Writer By Rebecca Garland
Business and Education Expert

Rebecca Garland, M.S. is a business and education writer. She holds secondary teaching certifications in six areas, has a degree in Business, and earned a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science. As an expert, Rebecca has been working with international clients since 2005.

*The company ratings on the PissedConsumer website are calculated using a mathematical algorithm that evaluates the information in the company’s profile. The algorithm parameters are: users’ rating, the number of resolved issues, the number of company responses and more. The PissedConsumer algorithm is also subject to change in the future.

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