Did you buy something online only to find out later that the business was fake and you’ve been scammed? It’s not an uncommon occurrence. We’ll tell you how to spot a fake online business and what to do if you’ve been scammed by one.

Fake online businesses

Sometimes scammers set up incredibly convincing fake websites and advertise them on social media or as a pop-up ad while you’re on a legitimate website. They may advertise luxury products at low costs and use professional photography that makes it seem like they’re a genuine digital retailer. After you purchase an item, you may notice other unauthorized charges on your credit card, never receive what you bought, or come to find that the online store has disappeared entirely.

How to spot fake online businesses

  • The product is advertised at an unbelievably low price – when something is too good to be true, it usually is!
  • The refund policy or terms and conditions are difficult to find
  • The contact information is missing
  • They’re asking for a wire transfer or some other strange payment method (remember that some versions of this scam will accept credit card payment, resulting in fraudulent charges)
  • No reviews or bad reviews online – they may have fake reviews on their website, so be sure to do your research outside of they have available
  • They are not a reputable business, and you can’t seem to find anyone who knows about them

What to do if you think you’ve been scammed

  • If you haven’t received your product yet and are concerned about the company being a scam, try contacting the business to see if there’s a reasonable explanation for things like a shipping delay/website issues
  • If you paid by credit card and believe you’ve been scammed, inform your credit card provider immediately. Find out what protections they have in place for scams/fraud. You may be able to request that the charges are cancelled/reversed
  • If there’s unauthorized charges on your credit card, remember that you are responsible for a maximum of $50 under BC’s consumer protections laws. Learn more about liability for fraudulent charges on credit cards.
  • Report the scam to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre
  • If you saw the ad on social media, report the scam there as well

Have you experienced anything like this before? Please let us know what you think in the comments.

Did you like this? You might like these posts too!

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6 tips to be a smarter online shopper

About Consumer Protection BC

We are responsible for regulating specific industries and certain consumer transactions in British Columbia. If your concern is captured under the laws we enforce, we will use the tools at our disposal to assist you. If we can’t help you directly, we will be happy to provide you with as much information as possible. Depending on your concern, another organization may be the ones to speak to; other times, court or legal assistance may be the best option. Explore our website at www.consumerprotectionbc.ca.