The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warned shoppers to do their homework before making a purchase on an online marketplace, advising them to research sellers and the marketplace itself.
In a tweet on Monday, the FTC warned: “Before you buy from a seller listed on a particular marketplace, search online for the site’s name with the word “complaint” or “review” to see what other people say about their experiences. Learn more: consumer.ftc.gov.”
The tweet linked to a page on the agency’s website titled, “Buying From an Online Marketplace.”
Shoppers should check out the marketplace site itself – “Search online for the site’s name, with the word “complaint” or “review,” to see what other people say about their experiences,” the FTC advised. It offered additional tips, such as finding out how the site will protect and use your information.
Beyond researching the marketplace, shoppers should check out the individual seller – here are the steps the FTC advised taking:
- Check the seller’s ratings and read comments from recent buyers.
- Be sure the seller’s listing includes contact information. If you have questions about an item, contact the seller. If you aren’t satisfied with the seller’s answer, choose a different seller.
- If you want a certain service — like a product warranty, free shipping, or the right to return an item — check the listings or ask sellers if they offer the service before you buy. Get the answers in writing and keep copies of your messages.
The FTC had advice about researching products and payment methods. What if you do all your homework but still encounter a problem?’
“If you think you’re dealing with a dishonest business, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov and to your state attorney general,” it advised. It included a link to a page on ConsumerResources.org where consumers can learn how to contact their state attorney general. The advice appears to be dated from May of last year – it’s unclear how often it tweets its warning.