How do you know this social media ad is legitimate? Here’s a guide to making smarter purchases

Local News
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(WSYR-TV) — Buying products from social media ads is the latest trend for consumers in the digital age, but just like anything else online these days, consumers need to be careful about who they are purchasing from. 

The Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker received thousands of complaints in 2020 about misleading social media advertisements.  

The BBB Scam tracker says to look out for these common scams: 

  • Products that claim to support a charity, when in fact consumers report they didn’t receive a product or know if the money went to a charity.  
  • Free trial offers sometimes end up costing some consumers hundreds in unauthorized or unwanted charges. 
  • Name-brand goods that are fake. If you purchase any counterfeit merchandise you may run the risk of not only receiving poor-quality products, but it may not meet environmental and safety regulations either.  
  • Look out for red flags. This includes items that are priced significantly lower than what other retailers are charging, spelling and grammatical errors in the advertisements, and poor-quality images. These are all signs that the advertisement may be for a counterfeit product. 
  • Engaging ads, poor customer service. This category covers a broad spectrum of complaints that BBB receives, from ads for beauty products to trendy clothing to kids’ toys. The advertisements look great and the products are often inexpensive. This means that consumers purchase without doing any research into the website or the company behind it. However, weeks pass, and the products never arrive. When the buyers reach out to customer service, they get a vague answer or they don’t hear back at all.  
  • Apps of unknown origin. While scrolling through your feed you may feel compelled to download the latest “free” app. Beware! By downloading this app, not only are you opening up your device to these unknown entities, you could possibly be signing up for recurring subscription fees. Victims report being charged fees as high as $99 every seven days. 
    • Before you enter your username and password, read the reviews. Also, read the description of the app carefully and look for spelling and grammatical errors. Check that the developer’s website is a working website and read the terms and conditions carefully ($99 every 7 days adds up quickly). 

The BBB Scam Tracker says a quick online search, checking the “About Us” or “Contact Us” information, and using good judgement about where you are purchasing ideas will help you avoid becoming victim.

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