Know who you’re buying from, AARP warns

Published 8:14 am Sunday, January 21, 2024

One key to shopping online is reading the fine print, including who you’re actually buying from. While we often think of giant online retailers like Amazon, Walmart and Target as a store they can be more like a mall or flea market where you are buying products from a variety of sellers. However, some of those sellers are more reputable than others.

Criminals use these websites to resell stolen products or items that either don’t work or contain dangerous chemicals. One easy way to protect yourself is to make sure you are buying directly from the retailer that runs the website. You can usually find the seller’s name on the product page near the button for buying the item. Shipping times and return policies are another sign of who you are buying from as products from the branded retailer will often ship faster and have a clear return policy.

As of the third quarter of 2023, online shopping scams were the second highest category of fraud reported to the Federal Trade Commission, and 51% of those reporting lost a combined $308 million. The actual losses are likely far higher since fraud is significantly under-reported. Be a fraud fighter! If you can spot a scam, you can stop a scam.