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Susan Tompor: Beware of those gifts you see on social media ads. They may never arrive

By Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Home and Consumer News

As we prepare for Cyber Monday and more online shopping to follow, we need to keep a long list of online shopping scams in mind.

The Federal Trade Commission reports that more consumers are complaining about losing money after responding to an ad or posting on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, TikTok and Twitter. Such complaints showed a sharp increase in the second quarter of 2020 as more people ordered online during the pandemic.

In the first and second quarters of 2020, the FTC received 43,391 complaints about undelivered online shopping orders. About 1 in 4 of those complaints indicated that the problem started on social media.

Consumers are warned to watch out for imposters who claim to be a well-known brand or retailer. We're told to be skeptical of lesser known outfits with clever gift ideas or super low prices. Don't trust unfamiliar sites selling hard-to-find gifts or name brand goods at steep discounts.

"It's horrible to do people that way," Stephenson said. As a caregiver, she says, she works hard for her money. She even spent an extra $10 to return that pitiful sheer top back in hopes of getting what she really ordered. She never received another item. Nothing, just out the $10.

"I foolishly thought sending it back, they would make it right," she said. "It's just shameful."


Stephenson blames Facebook and how fake gifts seem to be popping up on the social media giant's platform.

She's aware that Facebook is cracking down on political posts. Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, for example, posted Sept. 3 that Facebook, among other things, that week alone "took down a network of 13 accounts and 2 pages that were trying to mislead Americans and amplify division" about the political process and election.

Stephenson isn't impressed.

"If you're going to monitor everything people are saying, why aren't you monitoring what people are selling on your site?" she asks.


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