Fight shopping scams with the right information

If shopping online and offline this holiday season, you may want to arm yourself with information that may help you avoid credit card and identity theft, falling for scams, buying recalled products or poor knock-offs and fakes of popular items.

Here are a few sites to check when you have questions. You can also search “spotting fake items,” “scams to avoid,” “product recalls” and “online fraud.”


Protecting Credit Cards Online


Protect Yourself from Identity Theft


Product Recalls List


CPSC – Recalls


Spotting Counterfeit Goods


7 Ways To Spot Fakes


Spot Fake Fashion Items


How To Avoid Fraud


Ten Ways To Avoid Scams


Seven Online Scams To Avoid


Speaking of scams, a new Facebook scam has been slowly percolating through the social media platform.

Known as the “Blessing Loom,” you are asked to contribute $50 or $100 via PayPal and to recruit two people. Your name and their names are added to a hexagram-shaped diagram which is split into two diagrams with the names moving up one “level” on the sheet.

You’re told you’ll eventually receive $400 or $800 when you and others follow the plan.

It’s a pyramid scheme — more specifically, a Ponzi scheme, where money from new members is used to pay older members. Soon, there isn’t enough new money to pay the increasing numbers of older members and the scheme collapses, leaving nearly all the remaining people out at least $50 to $100.

Don’t let yourself get sucked in, and don’t pass the scheme along to others. In almost all instances, any plan that offers an “easy” way to make a lot of money in a short period of time is nothing more than an easy way to quickly lose a lot of money.

Questions? Start with the North Dakota Attorney General’s Consumer Protection and Antitrust Division (CPAT) web page:

You can also track other active Facebook scams by using the “Facecrooks” resources.

Calling themselves “The Social Media Watchdogs,” the owners have a constantly updated Facebook page outlining ongoing frauds being run on Facebook (, along with an equally active website (

Both places are excellent resources to visit when you’re not sure about a particular offer appearing on your Facebook page.

Keith Darnay is the Tribune’s online manager and has worked in the online world for more than two decades. His site is at


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