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This time of year, you’re probably buying lots of things online. Gifts, decorations, food! But what if something you’ve ordered shows up different than advertised? Or damaged? Or never comes at all? If so, you’re not alone.

Scammers often pose as real companies online — or make up fake companies — to try to get your money or personal information. They may post fake ads for things on social media or other websites, and even use a real company’s logo to try to seem legit. But then they take your money, and don’t send what you ordered.

Here are some ways to protect yourself when shopping online:

Pay by credit card. If you’re charged twice, billed for something you never got, or get a wrong or damaged item, you can dispute the charge with your credit card company.

Check out the company. Before you buy, search online for the company’s name along with words like “scam” or “fraud” to see what issues others might have had.

Keep records. Keep track of the company’s name and website, any receipts or bank statements showing what you paid, and when they said they’d ship your item. (Sellers have to ship your order by the time they or their ads say they will — or give you the chance to get your money back.)

If an online seller hasn’t lived up to its promises, report it to the FTC:

And stay tuned this month as we break down other ways to keep your hard-earned money safe from scammers this holiday season. We'll cover things like spotting gift card scams, avoiding scams when you travel, recognizing scammy package delivery notifications, and steering clear of fake job listings.

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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.
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  • 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

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.

November 30, 2023

Iam tried of scam

December 04, 2023

In reply to by Imogene

I am too. They start at 5am west coast time. (Idiots) WHEN will it stop? we have no power.

November 30, 2023

Thank you for helping us from fraud or scams.

November 30, 2023

I always get emails about give aways that usually go to spam, not always though.

Dwight James
November 30, 2023

These tidbits of information is very helpful for the uninformed, and those of us who may let our guard down because we are too busy shopping. Thank you and keep this information coming.

Tom Turner
November 30, 2023

Very helpful article. Thanks.

November 30, 2023

Thanks for trying to keep a lid on scams, fraud, and just fake stuff. Like 99% on Facebook.

November 30, 2023

Thank you for being enlightened, I finally feel like it has been explained. I will collect all proof of sending the money that I have sent.

As initial input, I have an application for investment capital to run a business in Indonesia. Long story short, there is a document that they sent from Turkey to Indonesia via Seadrill shipping with a tracking number. I paid the cost of the package and then the package was informed that it was being held by the authorities and I had to pay for an APS stamp. This made me confused and thought, I realized that I had been caught in a fraud circle all this time. I am very grateful for this information. but I don't have any more money for this matter. have I been a victim online.. I have lost a lot of money since the beginning. and sending funds is always to a bank account located in Turkey. Hopefully this will be enlightening and a god of help for me. Thank You.

Lisa S.
November 30, 2023

Appreciate the info! Tks!

Dr. Michael Wolfe
November 30, 2023

This scam happened to me! I purchased the HP COLOR LASERJET PRO M454dw printer in July 2023. This printer cost me $614.30. Immediately after opening the box and setting it up, the printer screen stated that I needed to complete the installation by accessing the HP website. I subsequently did (I thought) but in reality I was directed to a scam website. The person who answered stated "HP Welcome" and was very cordial in wanting to assist me in completing the installation. The representative spent more than 15 minutes attempting to complete the installation and finally told me that my computer had numerous viruses which needed to be removed before the installation could be completed. For some reason I was awfully stupid and agreed to pay them $1,000 to remove the viruses. The installation was then successful. Immediately after disconnecting from the call, I questioned how my PC could have any viruses as it's protected with BitDefender Total Security. Subsequently I contacted BitDefender and they completed a thorough scan and informed me that I never had any viruses!. I contacted my credit card company and after submitting a complaint and their review completed, my $1,000 charge was deleted. I still can't believe the stupidity of falling for this scam. I only thing that comes to mind is that my brain at 82 years old is not functioning as well as a 60 year old. My policy now is to newer donate money online and only purchase from a website that I have used before.

December 01, 2023

In reply to by Dr. Michael Wolfe

Don't feel bad I once did the same thing when I was much younger than you. Thanks for your comments.

Karen Harris
December 04, 2023

In reply to by Dr. Michael Wolfe

Dr Wolfe, I had a similar issue with HP LaserJet. I responded to an email I thought was HP, talked to the same cordial man and then when he started asking personal information and directing me to do things that took me into my data I realized it wasn’t really HP. I immediately hung up with him. I have the HP APP, as long as you stick to the HP APP things will be real. use it to follow up on emails etc… Lesson to be learned and it only took that one time for me. But I’m sure I will be more cautious and still get scammed. Has nothing to do with age anyone can do that. Happy Holidays

Kathleen Bryson
November 30, 2023

Thank you for this valuable information.

Doreen Cianci
November 30, 2023

An important reminder: Just because something is advertised on a site that you trust like Face Book, etc., doesn't mean you aren't being exposed to a scam.

Eugene Barber
November 30, 2023

Lots of people can benefit from news like this especially seniors who are not savvy enough to understand what is going on, sharing information with others and neighbors can make a big difference in their bank accounts, spread the word.

December 01, 2023

I ordered some allergy pills online. It wouldn't take my bank card for some reason so I used my credit card. The next morning, I received an email thanking me for setting up an automatic subscription. I called the company and told them I never did this and asked them to cancel my order. They said that they couldn't do this. I called my credit card and they stopped payment for that. A few days later I received the order, but I refused it and sent it back to them.

December 01, 2023

This service you offer is a true gift.
Thank you

December 01, 2023

I get text from Walmart about my package being shipped,just click the link.But I never ordered anything from Walmart.

December 01, 2023

Thank you for providing the information in the emails.

Sharon Orndoff
December 01, 2023

Thank you for the good advice. Sometimes we already ‘ know this’ but during the chaos of this year … we needed a reminder!

Evelyn Goodson
December 01, 2023

Keeping records, copies of transaction papers, and dates are very, very important. I have had several instances wherein I've had to rely on my records to address/dispute a case.

December 01, 2023

Some vendors have employed their Search Engine Optimization skills to make sure that if you google their name or product with the words "fraud" or "scam," the top hits will all be ecstatic praise of them. Keep scrolling down!

Bambi Perry
December 01, 2023

Would you consider a company that sells you something that looks good and sounds good but is delivered to you with poor quality and doesn't look anything or like the ad a scam? I have bought many things through a big company that we all know. it turns out they go through a smaller company in Asia that the stuff comes from. I reuse to buy anything from Asia through this company because I have gotten scammed allot. This big company or store is one we all use. They don't always post who they order things from. Go to the store and don't buy online unless you know where the goods are coming from.

Linda Sesler
December 01, 2023

I did all of those thing in August of this year and I've been trying to find and get my order or get my refund and yes I filed a claim with FTC got no help with them and BBB NO help there.Only get for me to wait patiently from company placed the order,btw they used'Hey Dudes logo and that was who I was buying from until I found out they were Hong kong.

Sharon Wright
December 01, 2023

Thanks for this info, It is very helpful.

December 06, 2023

Thank you.

December 06, 2023

Perhaps we should all just stop buying junk and stick to essentials for daily living.

Bonnie Armstrong
December 06, 2023

I ordered a book for my grandson from Instagram. I copied all the information. However I didn’t realize the name of the company was not included. Now I don’t know how to track them down. Any ideas? I have the order number and lots of info but no company name…ugh

John Adelman
December 04, 2023

Microsoft, TD Bank, Google, and Major Health Care Organizations are making promises they do not keep.

December 04, 2023

Musabela USA, a shoe company, found on Facebook, has scammed me. There were multiple good reviews and though I am usually very careful in who I trust I sure did mess up with this company. I am contesting the charges through my credit card company. Not all is lost because at age seventy nine I have learned a valuable lesson.

December 04, 2023

I ordered a sweater from what I thought was Talbots, paid by credit card. As soon as I ordered I had a bad feeling so I cancelled the order. Of course they wouldn’t cancel & now it says the item was shipped
…….. from Hong Cong. I feel sure I will never receive it. It was supposedly 90% discount so I only paid $20.00. I learned my lesson. From now on I will Check out the company before I order. I have ordered from Talbots many time, but from thd REAL Talbots.

Beth Ralston
December 05, 2023

I wish to file a complaint against Facebook! I asked them to remove my Facebook account and to notify me I if I appeared again later. I was told they would do this and call me back in 30 minutes. After one hour I called them and they said it had a lot of scam and was taking longer than expected. Today I called for an update and they are now telling me they will return my call in one hour! Please help me because I think I am being jerked around! Thank you

frederick mich…
December 11, 2023

getting connected to something that is a good system and is used for the right reasons helps everyone.... trying to shop online is getting overloaded and people think their is no limit to the things that they can order andit is better to go shopping at the stores ///but if you really do like shopping on line/// find trusted and real compainies...
I have had some issues with using my creidit card but stopped it and changed my card after stopping the preveious on.... ju be very careful it is tuff to get there and it helps to knwo that their are truly good people hwere you are searching from.... thanks to the staff ...