Scam alert: Watch out for fake takeout websites
ROCKFORD — As the COVID-19 pandemic lingers, ordering takeout is still more popular than ever.
The virus has also paved the way for scammer to crate fake food websites.
“Watch out for fake food-ordering websites that scam consumers out of their money and personal information,” said Dennis Horton, director of the Rockford Regional Office of the Better Business Bureau. “To avoid the fees and challenges that come with food delivery apps, some restaurants have set up their own websites.”
Horton said consumer fall victim of the fake-site scam when they search for their favorite restaurant’s website to see if they offer delivery and a way to order online. Near the top of the search results, they find a website that looks like it belongs to the restaurant. Or they may find a third-party website that looks very professional and similar to popular services. They click on the link, select their food, and enter a credit card information to pay. Charges appear on their account, but the food never arrives.
“When you call the restaurant to see what’s happened, they are unaware of your order,” Horton said. “The website was fake, and now the scammers have your credit card information, address, and other personal details.”
Horton said Rockford-area residents are falling prey.
“One consumer placed an order at a nearby restaurant,” he said. “The customer had been to the restaurant previously and ordered online with no issues. This time, when she went on the website, it had a tab that said, ‘Order Online,’ which she clicked. This took her to an ordering website. But when she went to the restaurant to pick up her meal, they said they never received the order in the first place. She showed the owner her email confirmation, but they said that they were not associated with that entity.”
And once they’re found out, scammers often change the name of the phony website and continue their tricks under a different fake identity, Horton said.
- Only order from websites you know and trust. Double-check the URL before placing your order, even if you think you are on a website you know.
- When in doubt, confirm with the restaurant. The first time you order directly from a restaurant’s website, call the restaurant to confirm that they have online ordering and that you are on the correct URL.
- Use your credit card. When you pay with your credit card, you can dispute any unauthorized charges. The same may not be true if you use your debit card or if you give a company your banking information, such as your account number and your bank’s routing number.
- Take action if you think you’ve ordered on a fake site. If you suspect you entered your credit card information to a fraudulent website, cancel your card right away and request a new one. Scammers might wait a few weeks or months before they start using the card numbers you gave them access to. For More Information Check out restaurants’ reputations through BBB.org. If a website you visit looks suspicious, report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker.
Featured image: Free Stock photos by Vecteezy