Americans losing millions in shopping scams that originate from ads on social media

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – More people have been staying home these past few months and many are buying more products online. If you are one of them, the Federal Trade Commission is warning you to be careful if you see advertisements on social media because all of them may not be legitimate.

“The number of reports where people indicated that the scam started on social media has more than tripled in the past year and the sharpest increase was in the second quarter of 2020,” said Emma Fletcher of the Federal Trade Commission.

According to the FTC, in the first six months of 2020, consumers have lost $117 million in shopping scams that originated from social media ads. That’s more than in all of 2019. One in four reports to the FTC about shopping scams is indicating that it began from a social media advertisement. 94 percent said it started with an ad they saw on Facebook or Instagram.

“I’m not surprised that scammers have been able to pivot and take advantage of changes that have come about because of the pandemic, we’ve seen them do that again and again with many different situations, but I am surprised by the growth in the number of reports and that so many of them are about online shopping,” said Fletcher.

The FTC says you need to do your homework and “don’t just click on an ad and buy the product.”

Fletcher suggests if you see a product advertised by a company you never heard of that you conduct your own line search of the company. Type the name of the company and or the product into your search engine and maybe put the word “scam” in the search as well. She says you may find out something you need to know, i.e. that the product and or company is not real.

The FTC also says you should make it a habit to use a credit card for online purchase because it is easier to dispute charges when a credit card is used.

The agency also says it has a new website to report fraud and says if you are a victim be sure to file a complaint.

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