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3 things to do before buying a mask online to avoid being scammed, Cleveland BBB says

Updated: Apr. 30, 2020 at 4:58 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Consumer advocates have a warning for everyone looking to buy a face mask.

Sue McConnell at the BBB’s Cleveland office said the organization has received several reports about fake mask companies stealing money from Ohioans.

“They will take your money, but you’ll get nothing for it," she said.

A Maple Heights woman recently lost $50 to a fake mask company called Teenimal.

She warns many other similar scam sites are out there too.

“Be aware that a lot of scammers are lurking out there,” she said. “No matter how legit they seem, or how great the prices are you really need to make sure you are dealing with a legit business."

She and our partners at the Cuyahoga County Scam Squad have three steps to make sure you are dealing with a real company.

First, put the website domain in at Whois.com.

“What you’ll get is the registration for that domain name,” McConnell said. “That will tell you when the website was created, and more importantly, it even tells you what country this company is from.”

19 News found many mask sites that were created within the last two months, which is a red flag.

  1. Use the website domain Whois.com.
  2. Read BBB reviews of it.
  3. Finally call the number on the website.

McConnell said you should also research the company on a search engine.

Read BBB reviews of it.

Check its address.

The Maple Heights victim said Teenimal’s listed address falls in a residential area.

“Sometimes registrations that are done in foreign countries will put a united states address to make you think you are dealing with an American address,” McConnell said.

Finally call the number on the website.

“Do you speak to a real person or do you just leave a message? If you have a problem with a purchase you want to be able to talk to someone right away,” McConnell said.

If you do decide to go ahead with the purchase after all that research, McConnell said your safest bet is to pay with a credit card.

“That way if you never get the product, or there is something wrong, you can dispute it with your credit card company, and you have a good chance of getting that credited back,” she said.

If you believe you’re in the middle of a mask scam our partners at the Cuyahoga County Scam Squad want to know.

You can file a report with the BBB and the Cuyahoga Department of Consumer affairs.

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