Going on the web to look for scarce products? Here’s how you can avoid COVID-19 online shopping scams

FTC warns consumers about shady sellers who never shipped items to customers

SAN ANTONIO – Scammers won’t let a pandemic stand in their way of making a quick buck, so the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning consumers about some online shopping scams and sharing tips on how you can avoid becoming a victim.

In April and May of this year, more people reported problems with online shopping to the FTC than another month on record, with more than half of those buyers never getting what they bought.

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The FTC says shady sellers put up websites offering scarce products during the early months of the pandemic.

People ordered personal protective equipment, household essentials and other products that were hard to find at stores from these sellers. However, when it came time for their order to arrive, it never showed up.

The FTC says scammers blamed the pandemic for shipping delays and eventually ghosted customers.

Watch out for these COVID-19 scams

According to reports from consumers, the commission says face masks were the number one undelivered item in April and May.

Here’s what the FTC recommends you should do to avoid running into issues when shopping online:

  • First, make sure to vet the seller before you buy. Search for the company's name with words like "scam," "complaint," or "review."
  • Next, pay your order with a credit card. If you never received your order, you can dispute the charge with your card issuer.
  • Finally, make sure you keep copies of the product descriptions, price, receipt and emails between you and the seller, including information you get about shipping delays or order cancelations.

If you encounter a scam or want to report an online shopping issue, report it to FTC.gov/complaint.

To submit your money questions for our GMSA at 9 “Money: It’s Personal” series, which airs on Tuesday mornings, email iherrera@ksat.com with the subject line “‘Money: It’s Personal’ story idea.”

For more coronavirus coverage from KSAT, click here.

About the Authors

Ivan Herrera has worked as a journalist in San Antonio since 2016. His work for KSAT 12 and KSAT.com includes covering breaking news of the day, as well as producing Q&As and content for the "South Texas Pride" and "KSAT Money" series.

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