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BBB: Be careful buying masks online

BBB: Be careful buying masks online

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WISCONSIN (CBS 58) -- Lisa Schiller from the Better Business Bureau of Wisconsin says scam websites are taking advantage of people during the pandemic.

"Purchasing masks is the number one complaint that we've seen since the quarantine," she said.

People are used to buying clothes or electronics online, but buying masks is new for many people, and that gives these scam websites an advantage.

"There are so many fake websites out there, and it's hard to tell the difference between a legitimate and a fake website," Schiller said.

The BBB's Scam Tracker is littered with people who say they got scammed. The FBI and Federal Trade Commission have also sounded the alarm to stay vigilant online. 

Schiller says click around a little before you click buy.

"See if we have a report on the company. Google the company's name, see if people are complaining about it. Chances are, they are."

Once you've done your research on a source for masks, what type of mask should you buy? We asked Dr. Mary Beth Graham, the Medical Director of infection prevention and control for Froedtert Hospital, to tell us which masks offer the best protection. "When I'm in the community, I'm wearing my typical cloth mask," Graham said.

Doctor Graham says that while there are still PPE shortages at hospitals, that shouldn't stop you from buying or wearing a mask. It is unlikely you are taking one away from a front-line worker. "They sell them at the hardware store, and they call them N95, those dust filter masks, and sometimes they say N95 just for the particulates. We would never use those at the hospital," she said.

What about the ads on TV for masks that are infused with silver or copper?

Dr. Graham thinks that is just marketing, and is skeptical that a mask with any so-called advanced features are worth buying. "The masks that they're showing on TV right now with the zippers so you can eat with them? That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen in my life."

Doctor Graham says making the choice to wear a mask is much more important than the type of mask you choose. "If everybody were to work together and wear their mask, then we would definitely cut down on transmission," she said.

For more information from the BBB on phony websites, click here.

The City of Milwaukee is also giving out FREE masks, for pickup locations click here.

You can also request masks from MaskUp Milwaukee here.

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