You’ve probably heard: it might be harder to find the gifts you’re looking for this holiday season. Many of us might be looking for alternatives, like buying gifts locally — or maybe from online marketplaces or sites you found through social media, online ads, or online searches. The Federal Trade Commission has some advice for protecting yourself from scams and negative shopping experiences.
- Make sure they let you pay with a safe payment method. For example, credit cards have legal protections, or a secure online payment system can protect you in case there’s a problem. If someone tells you to pay with a wire transfer, gift cards, or cryptocurrency, stop and find another seller. That’s how scammers tell you to pay.
- Check the rules about refunds and returns, and what happens if there’s a problem. Does the site have processes to help you get a refund if you don’t get exactly what was advertised or never get the item?
- Don’t buy from anyone who wants you to pay outside the marketplace’s payment system. If you do, you’ll lose any protection the site offers, and you probably won’t get the item or a refund.
- Find out other people’s experiences. Search online for the site’s name with words like “complaint” or “scam,” and check to see if any well-known websites have credible and impartial reviews of the marketplace or the seller.
- Look for pictures of the actual item and read the description of its condition and location.
Read more on the FTC Blog: https://consumer.ftc.gov/consumer-alerts/2021/11/looking-alternatives-your-holiday-shopping