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COVID opened the door for scammers to double down on their worst practices, while preying on consumers during an unprecedented global pandemic. That includes some bad actors who have been taking advantage of online shoppers in search of hard-to-find items like face masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE).

Today, the Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint against one of those bad actors. The Commission alleged that Frank Romero (doing business as Trend Deploy) failed to deliver advertised PPE on time — if at all. What’s more, Romero didn’t tell customers about shipping delays, offer order cancellations, or give refunds. And even worse, although consumers thought Romero was selling them N95 masks, in reality Romero sent them cloth masks that did not have the protective qualities he promised. This case is part of the FTC’s continuing effort to address “online shopping” fraud that seeks to exploit high demand for PPE and other COVID-related products.

When you shop online, sellers are supposed to ship your order within the time stated in their ads, or within 30 days if the ads don’t give a time. If a seller can’t ship within the promised time, it has to give you a revised shipping date, with the chance to either cancel your order for a full refund or accept the new shipping date.

So before you shop online, especially from an unfamiliar retailer, remember these three things:

1. Check out the company or product. Search online for the name plus 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.

2. Look at the terms of the sale. Make note of the total price, including taxes, shipping, and handling; the expected delivery date; and policies for refunds, including who pays for return shipping and if there is a restocking fee.

3. Pay by credit card. You’ll get protections under federal law, so you don’t have to pay for things you ordered but didn’t get.

Remember, if you see a scam, or want to report a problem about online shopping, tell the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

9 Comments


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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.

Rich
June 30, 2021
Thank you will definitely pass this along to various senior orgs and HOAs Your information is most helpful
KitKat
June 30, 2021
Thanks for all the useful information.
Dee
June 30, 2021
Thanks for keeping us informed!
help
June 30, 2021
advertisers on internet/facebook should have to tell you where the actual product will be shipped from.
Coop
July 08, 2021
Thank you, Colleen Tressler, such great 3-step advice for shopping on line. Scamming is so constant nowadays and saving money is a high priority. Comparison shopping important as well.
Archiebald
July 14, 2021
On line retailers should be forced to make public the country of origin where the product is manufactured as well as its shipping origin. This should be made public in all the retailers advertising.
Don't use your…
August 14, 2021
What about FedEx fake scales or Wallmart look a like emails
Don't use your…
August 14, 2021
I recently" Again " been scanned, when I write out and try to report it to my bank which they alerted me you know the oak call I didn't get to write down everything that happened but they said it's legit and it's not legit when I tapped on up above to check the site to see if it was Secure it said it was and I thought well I tapped on it again when I went back to the site and it looked secure at first and then it changed it changed to not secure right in front of my eyes and they just got more money out of my bank account man like every every week or every 2 weeks have been getting money out of my account and I went back inside and the darn thing what give me a phone number or legit address so they won they got money out of my account anyway
Acoonce69
August 31, 2021
Thank you so very much for the extra much needed information. Wish I would've had this 5 yrs ago. In the last year alone I think I've lost out on at least a couple of thousand dollars of items bought and never received or if received was nothing like I was under the impression I was receiving. Wish there were better ways of tracking it down so I can get my money back.