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Fake products or websites can ruin your holiday shopping; here's how to tell what's real

The BBB says with third party sellers on sites like Amazon, it's almost always a risky purchase.

These days instead of hitting the mall or department stores, more consumers are choosing to stay in for their holiday shopping and do it all online.

But you're not seeing the products before you buy them, and it's easier to wind up with a lemon.

“We're seeing that a lot of fake websites for counterfeit products or the product does exist in real life but that's not a real seller,” said Danielle Kane with the Better Business Bureau or BBB.

From fake sites to fake products, shopping online is getting trickier.

The BBB is warning about ads on social media that lead to sites that look real, but will just take your money.

“It will pop up and it will be tailored to you so you'll click it but it will end up bringing you to some website,” said Kane. “You place your order and you'll never get the product.”

Kane says check the URL. If it's not a ‘https” site and just an “http” it's not secure and you shouldn't enter your credit card information.

“You don't have to get it from the place that actually creates it, but you should be cross checking the product,” Kane said. “So what is it normally valued as? Where does it normally come from? And then google it and see what sites come up. See what are the top ten sites listed. If the site that you're on isn't one of them it might be time to switch over to a different website.”

As for phony products, Kane says there really is no way to tell.

“There's nothing you can really do to my knowledge to check the product itself because the picture they're likely using is probably going to look exactly like the picture Macy's is using,” said Kane.

The BBB says with third party sellers on sites like Amazon, it's almost always a risky purchase.

“If you're ordering from a third-party seller make sure you use a credit card. That way if the product doesn't come, or the seller never comes through, you're protected and you're not the one liable. Your bank will refund you that money,” Kane said.

Kane says if the price seems too good to be true... It most likely is.

If you do make a risky purchase this holiday season that ends up not showing up or being a replica of a name brand product Kane says file a complaint with the BBB. They'll reach out to the seller and if they don't remedy the situation or respond that automatically lowers their rating.

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