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Scam Alert: Fake websites selling COVID-19 related product

We all know how hard it is to find hand sanitizer and paper towels at the market during pandemic times.  Many people are ordering products like masks, paper products and disinfectants online.  Well, leave it to scammers to come up with another way to steal your money!  The BBB put out an alert on Wednesday warning consumers that phony baloney websites have surfaced in the past two months.  They set up shop (online) take your order, take your money and then poof…disappear. 

You can read the full details here.

BBB says there are a few things that you should be on the lookout for when shopping online.

  • Know who you are dealing with.  Check spelling and domain names. Google the website to see if others have been complaining. Look for other tell-tale signs such as poor grammar, lack of information, and capital letters in the middle of sentences.
  • Ensure the website address begins with https://. Also, check the address bar for a “not secure” messageA trustworthy online seller will have a secure domain, keeping your information safe from hackers. Many websites will also have security certification logos visible on their page. Always click on them to verify they open an attached security policy because many scam sites will simply display these logos without an option to click through to a policy.
  • Check the age of a website’s domain. Use a website like Whois to check whether a website was established recently. Because crises like the coronavirus provide new avenues for scammers to take advantage of the public, they will often establish new websites that match current events. 
  • Check for an about page and a contact us section. Scammers are creative, but they don’t often take the time to fabricate a full brand history like you would find on a company’s about us page. They may fabricate contact information, but BBB recommends ensuring the phone numbers and email addresses are both legitimate and responsive. 
  • Phishing emails often lack personalization. Legitimate companies communicate with customers using their name, but scammers don’t often know their victims. Many email scams will begin with a non-personalized salutation, like “Dear sir or madam.”
  • Check a business at BBB.org. Whether the website offers face masks or toilet paper, verify its legitimacy before you make a purchase or provide your personal information.
  • Always pay by credit card. When purchasing any product or service through a website, always use a credit card as your payment method. If you pay by credit card online, your transaction will be protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act. If the product arrives defective or doesn’t arrive at all, you can dispute the charge on your credit card and temporarily withhold payment while the creditor investigates them.

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About the Author

Maureen Dahill

Maureen Dahill is the editor of Caught in Southie and Caught in Dot and a lifelong resident of South Boston sometimes mistaken for a yuppie. Hockey mom, yoga enthusiast, lover of red wine and binge watching TV series. Mrs. Peter G. Follow her @MaureenCaught.