The Better Business Bureau is warning of fake food website scams as takeout ordering surged amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Watch out for fake food-ordering websites that scam consumers out of their money and personal information,” president and CEO of the BBB for Chicago and Northern Illinois Steve J. Bernas said. “To avoid the fees and challenges that come with food delivery apps, some restaurants have set up their own websites.”
Here's how the BBB said the scam typically works:
While searching for how to order takeout or delivery, a "very professional" looking website will likely appear at the top of the search results, according to officials.
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After clicking on the link, selecting food choices and entering credit card information, charges have been reported to appear on a bank account but the food never arrives, the BBB said.
“Scammers often change the name of the phony website and continue their tricks under a different fake identity,” says Bernas.
In one account from the BBB, a person accidentally used a fake food ordering website from which she received a confirmation email of her order. After calling the restaurant and providing the email, workers replied they were not associated with the website.
How should people avoid the scam? Here's what the BBB recommends:
- Only order from websites you know and trust
- When in doubt, call the restaurant to confirm
- Use your credit card as opposed to your debit card, so a scammer cannot obtain banking information
- If you think you ordered from a fake website, cancel your card and request a new one
The BBB noted that some scammers can wait a few weeks to months before using the cards, so there could be time to take preventative action.