SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - When purchasing something online, you may think you are getting the "real" deal. It turns out, that is often not the case.
The Government Accountability Office began an investigation last month into purchasing items from third-party sellers. Nearly half (20 out of 47) turned out to be fakes.
"Consumers are at risk, and that's why we say 'buyer beware'" says David Abbate with Homeland Security Investigations.
Here's some advice from the Better Business Bureau to help keep from becoming a victim.
- If something looks too good to be true, it probably is.
- Check the spelling and the grammar on the website and the URL. Scammers often create fake websites slightly by changing the spelling of a well-known brand or shop in the website address.
- Only deal with reputable sellers by using sites you know. If you are not familiar with the business, you can look it up on the better business bureau website to see if there have been complaints.
- Don't access links in unsolicited e-mails.
- If you're not sure whether items are genuine, don't enter payment details. You also want to make sure the transaction is secure. Look for 'https' in the website.
It's important to remember that some of the counterfeit items being sold could harm or kill you. One of the biggest concerns is fake drugs that look just like the real thing.
"It's coming in it's usually coming from China and it may or may not be what the consumer thinks it is and if you're ingesting something that you don't know what it is or against doctors orders it could be very harmful," Abate says.