Face mask warning: BBB issues alert about online scams

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 (WJW)- A warning from the Better Business Bureau before you purchase masks to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
 
 The Better Business Bureau said in a release people across Northeast Ohio have been inundated with online ads and other solicitations to purchase masks.
 
Some of the products claim to be medical grade, while others are simply fabric.
 
 
A Maple Heights woman reported she ordered N95 masks from Teenimal and paid for rush shipping earlier this month. When she didn’t receive her order she said, she sent emails to two different email addresses that were undeliverable.  The address for the company also turned out to be residential according to the woman.

 The BBB found that Teenimal claims to be a family-owned business and the picture they use appears to be lifted from another website and has been used on other online sites selling merchandise.

According to another BBB Scam Tracker report, one person reported ordering nearly $200 in masks but never received the order.   “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 that ‘the order was being processed.’”

The BBB warns these sites use tricks like limited-time deals to entice consumers into ordering more and can put you at risk of having your personal information stolen.

 The BBB  recommends the following when it comes to purchasing masks: 

Make them yourself:

Masks are an Option: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have
directions on how to make homemade face masks on their website. Some of these DIY instructions
also include “no-sew” masks made from t-shirts. Wearing facial coverings such as bandanas, scarfs, and handkerchiefs also help prevent person-to-person transmission of disease.

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.

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.

Be Wary of Stock Photos:

BBB has identified many suspected scam websites reusing the same stock photos. Use websites like  tineye.com and Google Image search to reverse search images online. If the same picture is used across multiple websites, be skeptical.  

 Research the seller:
Fraud is prevalent online and scammers can pose easily as legitimate merchants  Check the company’s website domain registration at whois.com.   You will see when the site was created and the country where the registration was created.  It can be difficult to determine the reputation of a foreign company. 
 

Pay by Credit Card: 

Using your credit card provides protection if the order is not received.

Lastly, be sure to check BBB.org   to see what other consumers’ experiences have been. 

 

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