September 1, 2020
Lately, shopping has been a challenge and many of us have increased our online ordering activity. In most cases, that’s absolutely fine, but there are some taking advantage of the situation.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, during April and May of 2020, more people reported problems with online shopping than in any other months on record. Here are some things to watch out for when ordering items online.
So Many Pop-Up Ads
Ads that pop up next to your Facebook feed make it so easy to click them, you may even click by mistake! They try to entice you with something you’d really want at a great price. You click the picture and the next thing you know, you’ve placed an order!
Did I Order That?
So you’ve placed your order and a package arrives but it’s a silly thing you didn’t order, like a hair tie or a cheap comb. This is a new trick where unscrupulous sellers attempt to legitimize themselves by proving something was shipped and something received. Some even go so far as to write a fake review!
Where Is My Order?
With COVID-19, scam websites were quickly launched to offer facemasks, sanitizer, toilet paper, thermometers and the like. The charge goes through (sometimes more than once) but the item never materializes. Some scammers use the pandemic as the reason for shipping delays, sometimes even charging extra fees for COVID-related “regulations.”
How Are They Getting Away with It?
Scammers have gotten very good at putting up polished websites and working social media and online advertising to their advantage. They evade negative reviews by disappearing and popping back up under a new name.
How Can I Avoid It?
- Type the company name into a search engine along with words like “scam” or “complaint” to see if they’ve been accused of fraud.
- Confirm the seller’s physical address and phone number.
- If they say, “supplies are about to run out!” or they’re selling at steep discounts, beware. Often if it seems too good to be true, it is.
- Purchase through large, well-established companies or smaller local companies you know well.
- Read terms and conditions. They may have a no-refund, no-returns policy. If you choose to order, that’s okay as long as you understand you’re taking on that liability.
- If, after you make the transaction, you get a confirmation email with the name of a different company, or links in the email are broken, it’s a red flag, as is seeing the name of an unknown merchant on your statement.
- If something seems fishy, call the fraud team. They’re happy to help assess.
If you’re concerned about a transaction, please email our fraud team at firstname.lastname@example.org, or log in to your RCU account to send a secure message. You can also report scams to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.