The allure of snagging an unbeatable deal is often too tempting to resist. However, e-bike enthusiasts should be aware of a new scam that is making rounds on social media platforms — the "Costco Clearance Sale Electric Bike Scam." Falling for this scam could result in financial loss, unauthorized charges, and identity theft.
How the Scam Operates
The scam starts innocently enough—with an online ad featuring the Costco logo, promising an Outdoor Electric Bike with a 48V/15Ah lithium battery for an astonishingly low price of $59 or even lower. When you click on the ad, you're taken to a website that appears to be a legitimate Costco outlet with similar fonts, colors, and design elements.
However, a closer look at the URL often reveals misspelled words or additional characters—your first red flag that something is amiss. Once on the site, urgency tactics like fake countdown timers and limited-time offers may try to rush you into making a purchase. Fake customer reviews that praise the incredible deal add to the illusion.
The Risks Involved
Once you checkout, the website will prompt you for your payment information. Submitting these details opens you up to a host of risks. The scammers behind these fake websites often use this information for unauthorized purchases and may even steal your identity. The consequences can range from financial loss to long-term damage to your credit score.
Tips for Avoiding Scams
Do Your Homework: Research the product and the seller before making any purchase, especially one that appears too good to be true. Look for reviews and ratings and verify the legitimacy of the website.
Confirm with the Manufacturer: If you doubt the product's authenticity, contact the manufacturer directly to confirm whether the online retailer is an authorized seller.
Secure Payments: Look for security indicators like the padlock icon in the URL bar and "https" in the website address. Using a credit card can also offer additional protection, as you can dispute fraudulent charges.
Personal Information: Be cautious about providing more personal information than necessary for the purchase. Scammers often ask for excessive details to steal your identity.
Email and Message Alerts: Be wary of unsolicited emails or messages that contain links or ask for personal or financial information.
What to Do If You’ve Been Scammed
Contact Financial Institutions: Contact your bank or credit card company immediately to dispute the charges and secure your accounts.
Report the Scam: File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to help law enforcement trace and shut down these scams.
Monitor Accounts: Keep a close eye on your financial accounts and report any unauthorized or suspicious activity as soon as you spot it.
If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. Only buy an e-bike from a reputable manufacturer. See our guides below!