“I clicked on a Facebook ad for a camping product. The website said they were a startup South Dakota company, so I thought I was supporting a U.S.-based small business. When the product arrived though, it had clearly been shipped from China, and it didn’t work as advertised.
“I emailed customer service (no phone number) and was told I could return the product for a refund. So, I paid to ship it back to their South Dakota address. That’s when customer service stopped answering my emails. I had to report the situation to my credit card to get money back.”
If you’re not shopping with a known retailer, take these steps to protect yourself:
- Search [website name] + complaints online and scan any results.
- Look for a “Contact Us” phone number and try to call. If no one answers during regular business hours, that might be a red flag.
- Enter the domain name into the ICANN WhoIs lookup and see if the information (such as country or year established) matches up.
- Make sure the purchase page is Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) secured, to protect your credit card information. SSL pages begin with “https” instead of “http.” Or look for a lock icon appearing next to the URL.
“I think I got lucky that my credit card information wasn’t stolen,” says our team member. “In the end, I was only out the return shipping fee, plus a lot of time and hassle.”