The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning Hanukkah observers that scammers are lying in wait to take advantage of them. The agency says there are three major things Hanukkah shoppers should consider before buying gifts online this year:
Do some homework on the seller before you buy. The FTC urges consumers to search online for both the name of the seller and product, plus words like “complaint” and “scam.” An example of an effective search would look like this: “+(seller) +(product) +complaint +scam” (but without the quotation marks). The agency says consumers should also read reviews about the seller and their products.
Look at the seller’s refund and shipping policies. On the surface, the FTC says to look for things like who pays the cost for shipping returns, how long a buyer has to return products, and whether there are any other fees a buyer might have to pay. Some unscrupulous sellers hide things in fine print and in policies that are often glossed over by consumers, so make sure the seller’s shipping policy is legitimate. If a seller doesn’t promise a time to send out your order, the rule is that they must ship within 30 days.
Pay by credit card. Using a credit card gives a consumer an extra layer of protection and more rights to dispute a charge if something goes wrong than other types of payment. “And never buy from sellers that only accept gift cards, money transfers, or cryptocurrency for payment,” says Carly Johnson, a member of the FTC’s Division of Consumer and Business Education.
If you spot a scam or experience problems shopping online, you can report the issue to the FTC at its website here.