Online Shopping Scams
Who’s the target?
These scams target people of all ages who shop online.
What’s the scammer's goal?
To capture your funds and/or personal information by posing as a legitimate online retailer.
How do they do it?
The common scam starts with a bogus online advertisement (usually in your social media feed, or a website or mobile app you frequent. These scammers may even mimic the websites of retailers you’re familiar with using similar slogans and logos so the link you click on looks legitimate. These fake stores are usually listing popular or trendy items at a fraction of their regular cost, and they promise other special perks like free shipping, free gifts, or overnight delivery.
Scammers use their fake storefronts in a number of ways. One purpose of these scams is to get you to enter your personal information or bank account numbers into their site so they can steal your money or identity. Other times, they will just ask for payment for your purchased items, and even send you a fake tracking number. But, these items will never arrive, and when you go back to contact them for a refund, they are impossible to get a hold of or their website is completely gone.
- The retailer is offering bargain-basement prices that are well below competitors’
- The website looks off, and there are grammar mistakes in their ads or descriptions
- The store is asking you to download software or enter personal information to access coupons or discounts
How can we stay safe?
- Buy from trusted sites, rather than using a search engine to shop
- Research before buying. Search the brand’s name and the word “scam” or view complaints on the Better Business Bureau (BBB)
- Enable alerts on your accounts so you know when they are being charged, and by whom
If you think you have been scammed:
- Contact your financial institutions as soon as possible
- If you’ve given the scammer any of your account passwords or PINs, change them immediately
- File a report on FTC.gov
- Contact the Social Security Fraud Hotline (if applicable)