Blinded by the light: BBB warns of solar eclipse glasses scam

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    With the solar eclipse set to take place on Monday, August 21, 2017, sun-gazers across North America are trying to get their hands on solar specs to view the rare event. But, BBB is warning eager viewers about scammers who are seizing the opportunity to make a quick buck by selling regular sun glasses, passing them off as NASA-certified solar-filtered eclipse shades.

    “Big events also mean big opportunities for scammers and unscrupulous businesses,” says Mary O’Sullivan-Andersen, president and CEO of Better Business Bureau Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay. “With a rare event like this, it is important to plan carefully and stick to purchasing glasses and other goods from official retailers.”

    To view the solar eclipse directly without damage to your eyes, you need special solar filter glasses, which are much more powerful than regular sunglasses. While sunglasses only block about 50 per cent of the sun’s rays, solar filter glasses block more than 99.99 per cent.

    Unfortunately, many of the solar glasses available online may be counterfeit or do not meet safety specifications. The best bet is to stick with a brand whose glasses are certified by NASA, sold by official retailers.

    Here’s the list of North American retailers selling solar-filtered glasses:

    • 7-Eleven

    • Best Buy

    • Bi-Mart

    • Casey’s General Store

    • Circle K

    • Hobby Town

    • Kirklands

    • Kroger

    • London Drugs

    • Love’s Travel Stops

    • Lowe’s

    • Pilot/Flying J

    • Toys “R” Us

    • Walmart

    Here’s the list of online stores and other vendors selling eclipse glasses:

    • 123 Sales

    • 2017Solar.com

    • 3Dstereo.com

    • Educational Innovations

    • Electronic Analyst

    • Firefly Buys (FFB)

    • Fred Meye

    • Freedom Hill

    • Mega-Fun Toys

    • Off the Wall Toys & Gifts

    • Run to Shop

    • Skyhawk Ventures

    • Solar Eclipse Spectacles (paper glasses only)

    • Soluna/GSM Sales

    • Squirrellynuts

    • ThinkGeek

    • Your 5 Star General Store

    Prevent scammers from pulling the wool over your eyes with these BBB safe shopping tips:

    • Stick to trusted retailers. While it may seem more convenient to order your solar shades online, be sure to only deal with reputable retailers. Some third-party sites may be selling unsafe knock-offs.

    • Contact the business directly. Verify product certifications, payment/shipping/refund policies as well as their location by contacting the business directly before making your purchase.

    When shopping online:

    • Look for “https”. On the payment page, look for “https” at the beginning of the address (the “s” stands for “secure”).

    • Look for legitimate logos. Scammers often use realistic looking logos from recognized and established retailers. Look for slight misspellings of business names, variations of logos or URLs to spot fake websites before making a purchase.

    • Use a credit card. Never wire money to people or businesses you don’t know. Instead pay with a credit card for added fraud protection. You can dispute charges if there are any unauthorized charges on the card, and many card issuers have zero-liability policies if someone steals and uses your card number. Check your credit card statement regularly for unauthorized charges.

    • Beware of phishing. Legitimate businesses do not send emails claiming problems with an order, account or a package to lure the buyer into revealing financial information. When in doubt, contact the business directly to confirm the issue.

    Protect your computer. Install a firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Check for and install the latest updates and run virus scans regularly.

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