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Advertisements on social media duping Indiana consumers

BBB seeing an uptick in complaints
The BBB has a warning out about advertisements you see on Facebook and other social media sites
Posted at 1:50 PM, Sep 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-06 20:28:18-04

INDIANAPOLIS — The Better Business Bureau Serving Central Indiana has a warning out regarding advertisements on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram.

Consumers need to be aware that not every retailer's advertising on social media is legitimate.

In fact, the BBB is seeing an increase in complaints, negative customer reviews and BBB Scam Tracker reports regarding orders placed from social media ads.

Consumers allege everything from non-delivery of orders to poor material quality, wrong sizes, or no labels, according to the BBB.

A consumer in Greenwood reported to BBB Scam Tracker they placed an order for a dog bed in July from a Facebook ad that was never delivered.

According to the report, the company has since changed their name multiple times on Facebook and similar reviews have been posted on social media from other consumers.

It happened to Brandon King of Terre Haute.

He was browsing Facebook when he saw an advertisement for a sweater aimed at saving the bees and thought it would be a great gift for his cousin.

"So I ordered it,” King said. “Unfortunately it didn't come, so I sent them an email. They said ‘Hey this order might take a little bit longer. But we will give you an extra item.’"

King got an email confirmation from “Beeing the Cure” showing he paid $30 for the sweater.

But when it still didn’t arrive, King tried to go back to the website which no longer existed.

"I went on their Facebook page and it was like some restaurant in New Jersey,” King said.

King filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.

"I don't know if it was a miscommunication or a downright scam, but I had to let someone know,” King said.

The Better Business Bureau Serving Central Indiana is seeing an uptick in complaints about purchases made from ads on social media.

"People go online, they'll buy it, give them their money and either the product doesn't show up or it's such bad quality it's not really what you are expecting,” BBB President Tim Maniscalo said.

While some advertisements are legitimate, others are not, which means consumers have to be savvy.

"In the URL bar look for the letters ‘https.’ S is the important letter and the lock icon,” Maniscalo said. “That gives you more assurance that the website has been registered and gives you more security."

King is trying to get his money back through his credit card company.

WRTV Investigates tried emailing the company that supposedly sold King the sweater, but we got a bounce-back reply that their email is no longer in service.

"It's really difficult to get the money back,” Maniscalo said. “The reason is most of these scams originate outside the country. Once you've paid your money is likely out of the country immediately. Local law enforcement isn't interested in shutting them down."

King hopes his story will save you from making the same mistake.

“Try not to take anything that you see on Facebook or anywhere else because it's very easy to see something and think ‘oh there's an advertisement for it, it must be real,’” King said.

WRTV Investigates is working to reach Facebook to find out what they’re doing to combat the problem, and we are still waiting to hear back.

The Better Business Bureau provides the following tips:

  • Do your homework. Check out retailers at bbb.org before you shop online. Do an online search of the business with the word “scam” or “complaints” to see what others are saying.
  • Think before your click. Be especially cautious about email solicitations and online ads on social media sites. Many sketchy retailers advertise great deals or trendy clothing that don’t measure up to the promotional hype.
  • Know the advertiser. Some of the best deals are only available online, but be careful. It’s easy for a fake site to mimic a famous retailer’s website, so make sure you are shopping with a legitimate site. A red flag is if the site is missing contact information.
  • Check a site’s security settings. If the site is secure, its URL (web address) should start with “https” and include a lock icon on the purchase or shopping cart page.
  • Shop with a credit card. In case of a fraudulent transaction, a credit card provides additional protections; it’s easier to dispute charges that you didn’t approve. Debit cards, prepaid cards or gift cards don’t have the same protections as a credit card.
  • Keep documentation of your order. Save a copy of the confirmation page or email confirmation until you receive the item and are satisfied. Be sure to know and understand the return policy and keep this documented with your purchase records.
  • Keep your device protected. Install a firewall, anti-virus, and anti-spyware software. Check for and install the latest updates and run virus scans regularly on your computer, tablet, and smart phone.

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