If there’s a high demand online for health and safety items, like facemasks and paper products, guess what scammers pretend to sell? That’s right: health and safety items, like facemasks and paper products.
Since the beginning of March, dozens of people, including healthcare workers, have told the FTC they paid online stores for facemasks and toilet paper but didn’t get anything. Most people said the scammers took their money and then ghosted them by cutting off all contact, refusing to answer questions, or closing or deactivating their online store websites.
Before you order from an unfamiliar online store, consider these tips to help avoid a scam:
- Check out the company or product by typing its name in a search engine with terms like “review,” “complaint,” or “scam.” See what other people say about it. Read the seller's description of the product carefully. If the seller has name-brand goods at steeply discounted prices, they might be fakes.
- Look at the terms of the sale. Calculate the total purchase price, including taxes, shipping, and handling. Find out when you can expect your delivery. By law, sellers should ship your order within the time stated in its ads, or within 30 days if the ads don’t state a time. If you have to return the item, can you get a refund? Who pays for return shipping? Is there a restocking fee?
- Pay by credit card. You’ll get protections under federal law, so you don’t have to pay for merchandise you ordered but didn’t get. If a business charged your account too soon, and didn’t deliver the merchandise on time, you can dispute the billing error and report it to your credit card company.
If you have a problem with an online purchase, you can try to work it out with the seller, but remember: you have the right to dispute a billing error directly with the credit card issuer. And if you suspect a scam, tell the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. For more for more tips, blogs, and videos about avoiding Coronavirus-related scams, visit ftc.gov/coronavirus.
The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.
- We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
- We won’t post comments that include vulgar messages, personal attacks by name, or offensive terms that target specific people or groups.
- We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
- We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.
In reply to Why doesn't the FTC publish by StC Don
Knowing the name of a site isn't always the best way to avoid a scam. Scammers may open - and close - sites quickly, or change the name of a site. That's why we offer tips you can use every time you shop, for every site.
In reply to Knowing the name of a site by FTC Staff
In reply to Is there any reason people by Question
By law, if a seller can't ship within the promised time, it must notify you, give a revised shipping date and give you the chance to cancel for a full refund or accept the new shipping date.
The seller must give you a way to exercise the cancellation option for free — for example, by giving you a prepaid reply card or staffing a toll-free telephone number.
If you don’t respond, and the delay is 30 days or less, it’s assumed that you accept the delay and are willing to wait for the merchandise.
Read more about your rights in this FTC article.
In reply to One company will tell you by masquerade
In reply to Ordered TP and disinfecting by mouse
You can help law enforcement by reporting that to the FTC at www.FTC.gov/Complaint. The information you give goes into a secure database that the FTC and other law enforcement agencies use for investigations.