Rebecca Garland
Rebecca Garland
Business and Education Expert

The air is feeling crisper, and your favorite Halloween decoration may already be up. It's a spooky season, and families are getting ready to enjoy a fun Halloween celebration. Of course, if you want to enjoy the perfect Halloween celebration, you’ll need more than a great costume and a few jack-o-lanterns. Part of the fun requires keeping an eye out for those looking to take advantage of others with Halloween scams.

If you’re already shopping for trick-or-treat candy and costumes, you’ve likely noticed the Halloween inflation. Things are just more expensive all around, and the October holidays are no exception. Many families are working hard to save money, but sometimes what looks like a great deal can wind up becoming a great headache if you fall prey to a Halloween scam.

Key Insights:

  • One of the Halloween scams involves returns and refunds. Halloween returns might come with unexpected restrictions. Check return and refund policies in advance, especially for seasonal items.
  • To enjoy the Halloween celebration, read online reviews carefully to avoid falling prey to fake websites, false advertising, and ticket scams.
  • To avoid top Halloween scams, shop with trusted retailers through secure websites. Don’t forget to plan for delays and be proactive. 

So, how to enjoy the Halloween celebration this year without scams or other drama? Be on the lookout for common issues and the top Halloween scams. And, of course, don’t forget that you can always take advantage of our strategies after being scammed to make the wrong things right again. 

1. Shipping and Delivery Scams

You find a great Halloween sale. You shop for a great costume idea and expect the shop to ship it straight to you as quickly as possible. But it doesn’t arrive on time due to a mysterious account hold. Or perhaps you ordered with plenty of time to spare, and somehow, delivery is taking far longer than anything else you’ve ordered from the site. This is the basis of one of the most popular Halloween scams - a shipping or delivery scam. 

One customer recently complained about issues with popular online retailer Temu. According to the customer, she placed many orders with the retailer, and her “kids costume have not been delivered.” She ordered many things, including “pants, dresses, shoes, sweaters with Temu” but didn’t run into trouble until recently with the Halloween delivery, which seems a bit questionable, at least according to the customer. 

Halloween refund scams

2. Refund Scams and Return Fraud

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. When they suddenly won’t honor Halloween returns, you’ve run into real trouble.These are other Halloween scams - return and refund ones.

Now, they aren’t refund scams 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, fully aware that you expected to have options when the company under-delivered. 

In the case of one Halloween customer, they spent hundreds of dollars on a large, animated skeleton for the Halloween celebration. Within weeks, they had problems and were ready to return the purchase. At that point, the reviewer realized that they “feel deceived by Joanns' misleading tactics.”  They continue by saying

They prominently display a sentence stating that returns with a receipt will be refunded in the original method of payment…However, buried in the fine print, it states that orders placed using PayPal will be refunded with a physical gift card.

When they returned the large skeleton, the customer now had “nearly $400 worth of store credit” but doesn’t have any additional needs at the store: 

They [JOANN Fabric] seem to exploit customers who pay through PayPal by giving them store credit instead of refunding their original payment method, all in the name of preserving their profits.

3. False Advertising

Ah, the old bait and switch. A company advertises a product that looks perfect for what you need or want. You order, send in your money, and wait for delivery, only to discover that you’ve been taken in by seriously false advertising. And your Halloween celebration is ruined. 

Recently, a PissedConsumer reviewer had this exact experience with a Halloween costume. In the SwiftSmile Com review, they claim that they “had (stupidly!) not read the reviews prior to purchasing” and wound up with something that “doesn’t even LOOK like what is advertised.”

As the reviewer states, they are “prepaying myself to be further ripped off when I endeavor to get a refund.” So, they are not hopeful about getting any money back and wish that Google would “stop running these absolutely fraudulent ads.”

4. Ticket Scams

The Halloween celebration comes in all shapes and sizes, and theme parks certainly want to get in on the fun. Of course, sometimes you wind up with tickets to something a bit different than you’ve come to expect. Here, we have one more Halloween scam - ticket scams. 

One theme park, Knotts Berry Farm, recently started a new Halloween show, and at least one customer was furious about it. According to the Knotts Berry farm review, the reviewer “express my extreme disappointment in Knotts” after finding the Halloween program to be “satanic and disgusting.” They concluded by stating:

Supporting a business that represents such a hellish and satanic show is something I stand against. Its one thing to be scary, but to portray something that glorifies Satanism is disgusting.

Halloween ticket scams

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.

Sometimes, vendors don’t even take the time to set up an account on a larger store – they just steal a company’s logo and pass it off as legitimate. In such a case, customers may face another Halloween scam. 

These fake websites are designed to look like the real thing, especially if shoppers are in a hurry to buy Halloween goods. Once the Halloween scammers have your money, however, the store – and any hope of getting what you ordered – disappears. 

This was the scenario one customer was facing after he ordered from a fake shop designed to look like Home Depot. The fake website was advertised on a Facebook ad and was quite convincing. According to the Home Depot review, the customer 

thought for sure it was a good site because of the Home Depot logo…

Tips to Avoid Halloween Scams

Halloween 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 top Halloween scams, follow some standard holiday online shopping tips. 

Shop with trusted vendors 

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.

Inspect websites carefully

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.

Check not only that a website is legitimate but also look for information, especially fine print, about returns and refunds. You don’t want to be taken in by a great deal only to find you have no options to return it if it doesn't work. 

Check each website and the competition to see if the price for an item is realistic. If the price is half or a third of what competitors are charging, there is reason to be suspicious. And be sure to check for shipping rates. A low price can quickly be offset by shipping rates or other “fees” that get added to the bottom line.

Shop early and plan for delays

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. 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.

Check out consumer reviews

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. 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.

Want to avoid worrying about the drama of Halloween advertising and refund scams? Do your research ahead of time, move cautiously, or consider making purchases from brick-and-mortar storefronts instead of online shops. Halloween reviews can warn you about potential false advertising and challenges with refunds or shipping. Take advantage of feedback other consumers have left online, and consider leaving a Halloween review of your own to help others avoid future issues.

Legal disclaimers:

  1. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide any legal, medical, accounting, investment or any other professional advice as individual cases may vary and should be discussed with a corresponding expert and/or an attorney.
  2. All or some image copyright belongs to the original owner(s). No copyright infringement intended.

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