Solar eclipse scams to watch out for
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Central North Carolina warned residents Monday of some solar eclipse scams to be aware of.
The first: Scammers are selling fake solar eclipse glasses, the BBB reported in a press release.
“North Carolinians are some of the lucky few — you’ll be able to see the full solar eclipse from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and a partial eclipse in other parts of the state. But you can’t look at the eclipse with regular sunglasses or you could damage your eyes. You’ll need special glasses. And scammers are finding a way to make a quick buck.”
Solar filter glass block more than 99.9 percent of the sun’s rays but not the counterfeit ones you may find online, the BBB said. The American Astronomical Society says you used to look for the ISO12312-2 label, but now it says scammers are printing ISO logo and certification labels on fake eclipse glasses.
As a result, AAS says you should only buy from these companies:
- American Paper Optics (Eclipser) / EclipseGlasses.com
- APM Telescopes (Sunfilter Glasses)*
- Baader Planetarium (AstroSolar Silver/Gold Film only)
- Celestron (EclipSmart Glasses & Viewers)
- DayStar (Solar Glasses)
- Explore Scientific (Solar Eclipse Sun Catcher Glasses)
- Lunt Solar Systems (SUNsafe SUNglasses) [see their unique kid-size eclipse glasses]
- Meade Instruments (EclipseView Glasses & Viewers)
- Rainbow Symphony (Eclipse Shades)
- Seymour Solar (Helios Glasses)
- Thousand Oaks Optical (Silver-Black Polymer & SolarLite)
- TSE 17 (Solar Filter Foil)
AAS also warns against using glasses that are more than three years old, or glasses with lenses that have scratches or wrinkles.
If you discover you’ve have bought a pair that isn’t from one of these recommended companies, send the glasses back and ask for a refund. If you can’t get a refund because the business has a no refund policy or doesn’t respond to your request, people should dispute the charge with their credit card company. We’d also ask that they file a report with BBB Scam Tracker at bbb.org/scamtracker so we can keep track and help the authorities.
Other solar eclipse scams to watch for:
If you are looking for a place to stay during the eclipse, be careful if you are booking through a site like Airbnb, VRBO, or Craigslist. Make sure to correspond within the website or app and not through other means. 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. Don’t deal with anyone who asks for payment outside of the platform’s approved options.
Cities across the path of totality are holding eclipse festivals with both free events and VIP viewing parties. Scammers may set up fake events or charge people for access to free public parties. These tips for avoiding summer festival scams can also help you separate real eclipse events from fake ones. NASA has information on many events here.
Here are some places to watch the solar eclipse in the Piedmont Triad.
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.
Remember to do your research and always trust your instincts — if something seems too good to be true, it probably is, the BBB says.