LIFE | BBB scam alert: That face mask could be a con 

woman wearing face mask on mountain
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BBB

As the coronavirus outbreak worsens, BBB.org/ScamTracker has received numerous reports about scam websites claiming to sell face masks online.  As you strive to keep yourself and loved ones healthy, be sure to watch out for phony ecommerce sites. Even better, save masks for the medical professionals who really need them, says Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

How the Scam Works:

Masks are sold out in your local stores and many trusted online sellers, so instead, you turn to purchasing masks from an online shop you don’t know.

Unfortunately, phony online stores abound – especially when an item is in high demand. According to Scam Tracker reports, these phony sellers take victims’ money and never deliver. One person reported ordering nearly $200 in masks and received no product or response from the seller: “I checked back a few times over the past week to see if there was updated information on a shipping date, but never got more information than ‘the order was being processed.’” These sites use tricks like limited time deals to entice you into ordering more.

In the worst cases, these sites are actually a way to steal your personal and credit card information, opening you up to identity theft.

Keep the following tips in mind when looking for face masks or other ways to protect yourself from the coronavirus.

  • Be savvy about product claims. While wearing a face mask may seem like an easy way to stop coronavirus from spreading, the Centers for Disease Control does not actually recommend it for the general public. Be sure to evaluate claims of any medical product before buying. Especially watch out for products claiming to offer a “miracle cure” for a range of ailments.
  • Only buy from reputable stores and websites. The best way to avoid getting scammed is to buy them directly from a seller you know and trust. Check BBB.org to see what other consumers’ experiences have been.
  • Be sure the online store has working contact info: If a company seems legitimate but you aren’t familiar with it, be extra careful with your personal information.
  • Before offering up your name, address, and credit card information, make sure the company is legitimate. A real street address, a working customer service number, a positive BBB Business Profile… these are just a few of the things to be looking out for to determine if a company is legitimate.

To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker. For more information on how to stay safe during this time follow BBB on Facebook, Twitter, TrustLocal.org or go to bbb.org/coronavirus.

 

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