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Sheriff Warns Shoppers to use Caution when Buying Online

Categories: | Author: sheriff sheriff | Posted: 12/1/2016 | Views: 1850

Pictured is a Project Lifesaver Transmitter on a client's wrist.

RIVERHEAD, NY – Holiday shopping is already in full swing, but some unscrupulous companies are out to scam unwitting buyers. Suffolk County Sheriff Vincent F. DeMarco wants everyone to have an enjoyable holiday season, and is reaching out to residents to inform them about potential online shopping scams to help prevent financial loss and victimization. 

“It is very easy to set up an online storefront that looks professional, and by doing so, thieves have mastered ways to lure shoppers into sending them money for products that may not be the same quality as advertised, or worse yet, for items that are non-existent,” said Sheriff DeMarco.  He added that “If an online deal for a popular item seems too good to be true, it probably is.  Sophisticated scammers know how to attract buyers with hot deals that may look very legitimate.”

How does one avoid falling prey to an internet shopping scam?  Here are some tips to help spot online shopping fraud:

  • Confirm the online seller’s physical address and phone number before making your purchase.  Do not order products online from companies that only list a post office box or no address at all on their website.  If you are unsure about the legitimacy of a company, it never hurts to check with the Better Business Bureau in the seller’s area.
  • Before entering your credit card information to make a transaction through a website, make sure it is a “secure site” with a URL that starts with https.  
  • Never provide credit card or banking information via email or a pop up message that appears on your computer.  This should immediately raise suspicion. 
  • Purchase merchandise only from reputable sellers.  Impressive websites are easy to set up so do not judge a company by its website. 
  • Use a credit card for purchases rather than a money order or personal check because your transaction will be protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act. Under this law, you can dispute charges under certain circumstances and temporarily withhold payment from the seller while the creditor investigates them. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), your liability is limited to the first $50 in charges if someone fraudulently uses your credit card. There are also many credit card companies that will waive responsibility for any unauthorized charges made to your card. Some credit cards also provide an additional warranty and purchase protection benefits.
  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation advises United States online shoppers to be particularly cautious when purchasing items from businesses outside of the country who may not be subject to recourse by U.S. law enforcement.

  • If you suspect that you have been victimized by online shopping fraud, the FTC advises that you first try to work it out directly with the seller or site operator to determine if they will make good on the terms of your purchase.  If that does not work, you should file a complaint with the FTC at  You should also contact the New York State Attorney General’s Office and the Better Business Bureau.  

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