Pandemic purchases lead to surge in online shopping complaints, FTC says

People are reporting unreceived orders of face masks more than any other item.

Erin Carson Former Senior Writer
Erin Carson covered internet culture, online dating and the weird ways tech and science are changing your life.
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Erin Carson

The FTC says many people ordered face masks online and never got them.


As people rushed to buy supplies online during the coronavirus pandemic, not all shoppers got what they ordered, the US Federal Trade Commission said in a blog post Wednesday. Online shopping complaints about goods that never arrived surged in April and May, said the FTC.

"By the week of April 5, reports of unreceived merchandise were almost on par with previous peak numbers from the December 2019 holiday shopping season," the post said. By May, it was double. 

The FTC cites scammers pretending to sell hard-to-get items like masks, gloves and hand sanitizer. Reports regarding face masks were more common than complaints involving any other item. 

The FTC recommends being wary of unfamiliar sites selling in-demand items, and searching for company names along with the search terms "scam" or "complaints."