BBB Scam Alert: Preparing for Coronavirus? That Face Mask Could be a Con

Better Business Bureau

Thursday, July 16th, 2020

Reports of COVID-19 cases are continuing to spike causing many state and local municipalities to implement policies requiring people to wear a face mask in public places. After the initial outbreak earlier this year, supplies rebounded slightly however, there is no way to tell if there will be enough personal protection equipment for everyone until a vaccine is developed. has received numerous reports about scam websites claiming to sell face masks online.  When trying to find a reliable source to purchase a mask, watch out for phony ecommerce sites and other scams.

How the Scam Works:  

When looking to purchase masks to help protect yourself – or family – from coronavirus only to find out they're in limited supply your local stores and many major online sellers, you begin searching unfamiliar online retailers.

Unfortunately, there are several phony online stores – especially when an item is in high demand. According to BBB Scam Tracker reports, these phony sellers take victims’ money and never deliver anything all. One person reported ordering nearly $200 in masks and received no product or response from the seller: “I checked back a few times over the past week to see if there was updated information on a shipping date, but never got more information than that ‘the order was being processed.’” These sites use tricks like limited time deals to entice you into ordering more.

In the worst cases, these sites are actually a way to steal your personal and credit card information, opening you up to identity theft.

Watch out for Coronavirus Cons:

Keep the following tips in mind when looking for face masks or other ways to protect yourself from the coronavirus. 

  • Be savvy about product claims. Be sure to evaluate claims of any medical product before buying. Especially watch out for products claiming to offer a “miracle cure” for a range of ailments.

  • Only buy from reputable stores and websites. The best way to avoid getting scammed is to purchase products directly from a seller you know and trust. Check to read what other consumers’ experiences have been.

  • Be sure the online store has working contact information. If a company seems legitimate but you aren’t familiar with it, be extra careful with your personal information. Before offering up your name, address, and credit card information, make sure the company is legitimate such as if the business has a real street address, a working customer service number and a positive BBB Business Profile. These are just a few of the things to be looking out for to determine if a company is legitimate.

  • As the virus spreads, be wary of other coronavirus cons. Look out for fake cures, phony prevention measures and other scams

For more information:

The FDA offers these tips to recognize fraudulent health products, and CDC has this FAQ about coronavirus.

See for more online shopping tips. 

If you’ve spotted a scam (whether or not you’ve lost money), report it to Your report can help others avoid falling victim to scams.

In Canada, report fraud or suspicious activity to the Canadian Anti Fraud Centre

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