Don’t Let an Eclipse Blind You to Scams

(Lake Havasu City, AZ – August 16, 2017) For the first time since June 1918 a total solar eclipse will be visible from coast to coast in the United States, travelling across the nation from Oregon to South Carolina on August 21, 2017. People will be able to observe via television, telescopes, or their own eyes; however, big events also mean big opportunities for scammers and unethical businesses. Better Business Bureau (BBB) reminds everyone the importance of planning carefully and trusting your instincts.

Be on the lookout for the following scams as you get ready for the eclipse:

Counterfeit Eclipse Glasses

Never look directly at the sun. To view the eclipse without damage to your eyes, use solar filter glasses. While sunglasses block about 50 percent of the sun’s rays, solar filter glasses block more than 99.99 percent. Unfortunately, many solar glasses available online may be fake or do not meet safety specifications. Your best bet is to stick with a brand certified by NASA or the American Astronomical Society (AAS) – for a list of reputable vendors visit eclipse.aas.org/resources/solar-filters.

Additional tips for safe viewing:

  • Regular sunglasses, even very dark sunglasses, are not enough.
  • Warn children of the danger of viewing the eclipse without protective eyewear.
  • Do not observe the eclipse through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars, or other optical device.
  • Read more about viewing the solar eclipse safely at eclipse2017.nasa.gov/safety.

Accommodation Scams

If looking for a place to stay during the eclipse, be careful when booking online through a third-party site. Check with bbb.org to see what previous customers have to say about their experience. Don’t deal with anyone who asks for payment outside the website’s approved options, and ask for a confirmation number or email. Always double check that a listing is on the real website and emails are coming from official addresses. Using a credit card offers the best fraud protection.

There have been reports of travelers who booked hotels for the eclipse long in advance (before it was widely publicized) only to see their reservations canceled or moved to hotels far from viewing spots. Some of the original rooms are then offered again at a much higher rate. If you are travelling out of town for the eclipse and have a hotel booked, double-check your reservations before heading out.

Event Scams

Cities across the path of totality are offering free and/or VIP viewing parties. Scammers may set up fake events online or through social media and charge people for access to what should be a free event. NASA has information on many events at eclipse2017.nasa.gov/event-locations.

Bus Scams

Traffic will likely be very heavy on any road between a major city and the eclipse path. A bus might sound like great option, but be careful you don’t make a reservation only to end up without transportation. Make sure you deal directly with a bus or limo company to avoid scammers using a legitimate business as a front. Go to bbb.org to look for Accredited Businesses and read reviews and complaints before you book.

This month’s eclipse may be a rare chance to see an extraordinary astronomical event right in your backyard. That urgency and unique opportunity are what can make scams successful. Remember to do your research and if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

If you are the victim of a scam related to the eclipse, go to BBB.org/scamtracker to file a scam report.

BBB.ORG

For more information or to schedule an interview with a BBB spokesperson, please contact Elaine Cullen at 928-302-3701 or ecullen@arizonabbb.org.

About Better Business Bureau Serving Central, Northern & Western Arizona

For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau (BBB) has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2016, people turned to BBB more than 167 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities – all available for free at bbb.org. Incorporated locally in 1938, BBB Serving Central, Northern and Western Arizona covers 10 counties through its campuses in Phoenix, Lake Havasu City, Prescott and Yuma supported by over 11,600 BBB Accredited Businesses. Businesses that earn BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to high standards of ethical business practices. BBB provides objective advice, free business and charity profiles, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust.
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