Couple Christmas Shopping OnineDue to supply chain disruptions, you’ve probably heard that it might be harder to find the gifts you’re looking for this holiday season. That might lead many people to look for items in online marketplaces or on sites you find through your social media accounts, online ads, or by searching online. If you’re heading online to shop, here are some things you can do to avoid a scam or negative experience:

  • Be sure to check and know the site’s rules about refunds and returns. What happens if you experience a problem? Do you get a refund, store credit, etc.? Know their refund policy before making a purchase.
  • Make sure they let you pay with a safe payment method such as credit cards, which have legal protections. If someone tells you to pay with a wire transfer, gift cards, or cryptocurrency, stop and find another seller.
  • If you’re buying from a marketplace site (such as eBay, Etsy, etc.), don’t buy from anyone who wants you to pay outside the marketplace’s payment system. By paying outside the system, you’ll lose any protection the site offers and run the risk of not getting the item or a refund.
  • Learn about other people’s experiences with the seller or site before making a purchase. Read reviews, and also search for the site’s name with words like “complaint” or “scam.”
  • Be sure you can verify the actual dimensions and specifications of the item you’re ordering. Look for pictures of the actual item and read the description of its condition. 
  • If something does go wrong, try to work out problems with the seller. If that doesn’t work, report them to the marketplace. If you paid by credit or debit card, file a dispute with your credit or debit card company. You can also report fraud, scams, or bad business practices to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

Be sure to protect yourself and your money so you have a positive shopping experience this holiday season!