February 24, 2024

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: ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

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…

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