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Face masks, toilet paper, and other essential items are in high demand right now. Be careful of deals that seem too good to be true. The Federal Trade Commission gives tips on how to shop online responsibly:

  • Check out the company or product by typing its name in a search engine with terms like “review,” “complaint,” or “scam.” See what other people say about it. Read the seller’s description of the product carefully. If the seller has name-brand goods at steeply discounted prices, they might be fakes.
  • Look at the terms of the sale. Calculate the total purchase price, including taxes, shipping, and handling. Find out when you can expect your delivery. By law, sellers should ship your order within the time stated in its ads, or within 30 days if the ads don’t state a time. If you have to return the item, can you get a refund? Who pays for return shipping? Is there a restocking fee?
  • Pay by credit card. You’ll get protections under federal law, so you don’t have to pay for merchandise you ordered but didn’t get. If a business charged your account too soon, and didn’t deliver the merchandise on time, you can dispute the billing error and report it to your credit card company.

Read more in the FTC’s latest post: Scammers Offers Facemasks But Don’t Deliver.

For more tips on avoiding Coronavirus-related scams, visit the FTC Coronavirus Advice Portal.