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Before you order takeout online, read this warning (and protect your money!)

You are hungry and feel like ordering takeout. You might not have a food delivery app installed on your phone, so you browse the internet for restaurants nearby. In theory, this seems like an excellent idea, but scammers are waiting for you to make a mistake.

The link at the top of the search results looks somewhat familiar, or it might be for a restaurant that you’ve always wanted to try. But you should proceed with caution, as there have been increased instances where the listed restaurants are completely fake. Tap or click here for tricky tactics restaurants are using on delivery apps.

Not only will you still be hungry as the food never arrives, but you would have lost money to the phony transaction as well. Here’s how the restaurant scam works and what you can do to protect yourself.

Here’s the backstory

The scam is very tricky, and thousands of people have fallen victim to it. Scammers will develop a website that looks like existing ones to fool you into spending money at a fake restaurant.

Spoofed restaurant or delivery service sites are very convincing, even with a few little differences. If you don’t notice the small discrepancies, you could easily select the meals you want, go to check out and pay with your credit/debit card.

But that is where the catch is. Since the online restaurant or delivery service is completely fake, the scammers managed to steal your money.

Now the scammers have your credit card information, address and other personal details. And no food will be coming your way. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning that this type of scam is increasing at an alarming rate.

What you can do about it

The last thing you want to be is still hungry and out of pocket for the takeout purchase. There are several ways in which you can protect yourself when ordering your favorite cuisine.

Here are some tips from BBB:

  • Only order from websites you know and trust. Even if you think you are on a website you know, double check the URL before you place your order.
  • 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 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.

You can check out restaurants’ reputations through BBB.org. If a website you visit looks suspicious, report it to the BBB Scam Tracker. Sharing your experience can help others avoid falling victim to comparable scams.

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