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Unusually low prices for brand-name products? That’s a sign of a scam.  Learn to spot fake bargains:

Ever think about clicking on ads for big markdowns or close-out sales in your feed? Social media seems to know what’s on your shopping list, whether it’s the season’s hot toys, electronics, or other popular items. The problem? Scammers are impersonating real companies in ads on Facebook, TikTok, and other social media platforms. So, how do you navigate past the fakes without passing up the real bargains? 

If you’re in a race to finish your holiday shopping, you might be interested in ads that promise great deals from companies you know and trust. But if you order, you’re likely to get a knockoff, poorly made item, or nothing at all, because it wasn’t the company at all: it was a scammer. Here’s how to spot their phony ads:

  • Do some research before you buy. Unusually low prices are a sign of a scam. If you see an ad for a familiar company but you’re not sure the ad is real, go to the company’s website using a page you know is official — not the link in the ad.
  • Pay by credit card, whenever possible. Credit cards offer more protections, and you can dispute charges if what you get is not what you ordered, or you get nothing at all.
  • Know only scammers demand you pay with gift cards, wire transfers through companies like Western Union or MoneyGram, payment apps, or cryptocurrency. Sending money that way is like sending cash. It’s nearly impossible to get it back if there’s a problem. But reporting the scam as soon as possible increases your chances of getting your money back.

Already paid or gave your information to a scammer? Read What To Do if You Were Scammed to find out what to do next. And help fight fraud by telling the FTC at

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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.

Rod Edwards
December 15, 2023

Thanks for all the scam articles. Have a great holiday.

Valerie Tackett
December 18, 2023

I got scammed by a company selling dolls. They gave false shipping documents from overseas that said the order was delivered. After that, I went to war with these people threatening to report them to the FTC. They eventually refunded my purchase price, after offering me a partial refund.

Brenda Ross
December 18, 2023

Thank you for allll of your tips!! Most appreciated!!

December 19, 2023

I ordered some specialty seeds from online seed breeder, but the issue came at checkout. They required a3d Protection card, or pay with bitcoin. Huh? I spoke to my bank after charges were denied. She told me that US Bank does not offer that, and she has never heard of this. Obviously the guy is doing something shady or this scam my payment system is designed for scammers and cheaters. Hide all their transactions and rip ppl off without ANY recourse. They had the fake reviews saying they had trouble with the payment requirements, but when he figured it out was fine! How stupid do these scammers think we are? Guess there's no limit dishonest people will go. Disgusting!