Still scrambling to find a Halloween costume? Beware of ghoulish fraudsters looking to profit from your mad dash.
Last year, the Better Business Bureau
, a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to creating trust between consumers and businesses, received 378 consumer complaints about costume stores and websites.
"On the one hand, 378 complaints nationally is not that much," says Katherine Hutt, the BBB's director of communications. "But, because it's a short-lived industry -- the stores are only open a month or so -- it's an industry where it's very easy to take advantage of people because they can pop up and then just disappear." The consumer complaints speak to the problems inherent in these temporary stores
. According to the BBB, consumers reported deliveries that never arrived and difficulty obtaining refunds. Some customers attempted to return products only to discover the store was no longer operating.
"If you're buying from a temporary store, ask about return policies before making a purchase." said Michelle L. Corey, BBB president and CEO.
The BBB also suggests that "if you're buying from a seasonal store, ask them whether they will be open after the holiday and whether they will accept returns when the season is over. If not, consider buying elsewhere or taking more time to be sure the item is exactly what you want before making the purchase."
If you're shopping someplace new, and want to see what consumers have to say about it, you can check its BBB Business Review
Loren Berlin is a reporter with the AOL Huffington Post Media Group. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter at @LorenBerlin, and on Facebook.