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It was one of this year’s popular gift ideas: a handmade quilt adorned with gaming or movie characters and other pop culture images. It enticed holiday shoppers with its trendy products at an affordable price. However, in many cases, people who ordered these quilts never received them.

Since September, your Better Business Bureau received reports on its Scam Tracker site from more than 125 frustrated customers, and a number of BBB offices have received complaints and calls from consumers about companies operating under a variety of names. Consumer here in Idaho have been hit as well, losing hundreds of dollars on what they thought would be a wonderful gift.

While some quilt makers may be legitimate companies that were overwhelmed by holiday orders, others are undoubtedly scams. BBB is investigating to try to determine which ones are fraudulent. Consumers report being fooled by authentic-looking ecommerce sites, which highlight positive customer reviews and photos. One consumer wrote: “I did a quick search before buying from them, saw what I now know was a fake page of rather authentic looking positive reviews. Website looked legit, allowed for multiple payment options, and even had a decent return policy.”

A victim in Twin Falls reported purchasing nine quilts through PayPal from Amelia’s Cotton Quilt Company costing almost $500 but didn’t receive any of them. Most victims report similar experiences. They find the ecommerce site through an online search or a social media ad. When they place an order through the site, they initially receive a tracking number and confirmation email. However, when the quilt doesn’t arrive weeks later, they can’t find the company’s contact information. In some cases, the website has shut down entirely.

Another report describes a typical experience: “I was able to track progress through the website for about a week. Now the website is gone, emails are not responded to and I have not received what I ordered. There is not a way to get in touch with their so-called customer support.”

While purchasing a quilt may seem like a safe product to buy, online purchases are the riskiest type of purchases and can end up consumer fraud. Some of the best tips to follow to not become a victim of a scammer are:

Think before you click. Be especially cautious about email solicitations and online ads on social media sites. Many sketchy retailers advertise great deals or trendy clothing that don’t measure up to the promotional hype.

Beware of too-good-to-be-true deals. Offers on websites and in unsolicited emails may offer free or very low prices on hard-to-find items. Look for and read the fine print.

Shop with a credit card. In case of a fraudulent transaction, a credit card provides additional protections; it’s easier to dispute charges that you didn’t approve.

For more information about this particular scam and the names of the fraudulent companies people bought from, go to bbb.org.

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