Be sure to buy legitimate eclipse glasses; look out for rental red flags if you’re traveling to see eclipse

BBB-Scam-Tracker-1

QUINCY — Planning to go see the upcoming total solar eclipse? Be wary of scams when you’re
shopping for eclipse glasses and lodging.

The path of totality for the April 8 solar eclipse will cut through southeastern Missouri and southern Illinois. Great American Eclipse estimates that between 43,000 and 172,000 people will travel to Missouri and between 68,000 to 274,000 people will travel to Illinois to see this rare event.

Eclipse hunters will need special glasses to view the eclipse without damaging their eyes,
and many will order glasses online. Unfortunately, scammers will likely take advantage of the high demand for glasses and lodging in the path of totality. During the last solar eclipse of 2017, a wave of counterfeit glasses hit online marketplaces, and BBB received reports of fake glasses and scam rentals.

Scammers often use rare or high-demand events to deceive people. BBB encourages you to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but make sure you’re doing it safely. Take extra precautions when purchasing glasses or booking rentals to see the eclipse.

Tips for buying safe, legitimate eclipse glasses:

  • Follow NASA’s guidance for safe eclipse viewing: Don’t look directly at the sun and use safe solar viewing glasses or a handheld viewer at all times.
  • Get glasses that meet safety standards. Safe glasses meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard. Your glasses should have the ISO logo and the words “ISO 12312-2” printed on them, along with the manufacturer’s name and address.
  • Buy from a trusted source. Unfortunately, unscrupulous sellers can grab the ISO logo off the internet and print it on their product. Buying from a vetted source will help you be confident that your glasses are safe.
  • NASA does not endorse solar viewers. Be wary if a vendor says their glasses are “NASA-approved.” However, NASA does direct eclipse viewers to a list of solar glasses manufacturers that have been vetted by the AAS. You can look vendors up at BBB.org to see their rating, track record and whether they are BBB Accredited.
  • Don’t use damaged glasses. If you still have glasses from the 2017 eclipse, don’t use them if they are bent, ripped or scratched.
  • Test your glasses. Test your glasses by looking at a light source like a lamp or by glancing at the sun VERY briefly. The AAS says that you shouldn’t be able to see much through a safe solar filter except the sun itself or something comparably bright.

Tips for eclipse-related travel:

  • Verify your rental property exists. BBB released an in-depth study on scams where consumers paid a deposit only to find their rental didn’t exist or wasn’t actually available for rent. Research the rental address online before you pay. Use a reverse image search tool to check if photos of your rental have been used in listings in other cities.
  • Look for rental red flags: Be skeptical if a rental owner is not responsive, doesn’t list a phone number or address for the rental, or claims to be out of the country.
  • Don’t pay a stranger with a cash transfer app. Many rental scammers now ask for payments through peer-to-peer apps instead of wired funds or prepaid debit/gift cards. Only use these apps with people you know.
  • Use a credit card to pay for deposits or reservations in case you need to challenge the charge later.

Report suspicious rentals or fake eclipse glasses to BBB Scam Tracker.

Don O’Brien is the regional director for the Quincy Better Business Bureau. Contact him at
dobrien@quincybbb.org or 217-209-3972.

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