Thinking about ordering flowers from a florist out of the phone book? Did you know you could be the victim of a scam?

We asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to help give us advice about what to ask when ordering flowers.

We know: How to Order Flowers Safely

What’s the flower ordering scam?

When you choose a florist from the phone book, you think you’re getting a local retail shop. But not always. A favorite scam involves forwarding your call to an out-of-town telemarketing operation, posing as a local shop.

You place your order via credit card, then the telemarketer hangs up, takes the information and places your order to a local shop. In the process, the telemarketer charges you a processing fee --- and a percentage of the sale. Or, you never get any flowers delivered at all!

How do you avoid being scammed?

Here are a few tips:

  • Call a local florist shop you know exists or ask friends and family for a recommendation.
  • Only call shops that list their local address in the phone book. Avoid shops with no address listed. Or call the shop, and ask for directions. If they hesitate, you may want to move on to another florist.
  • Call the Better Business Bureau to be sure the florist is the real deal.
  • If you're calling a florist in another city, ask them to give you their street address.
  • If you get the number from information, ask for the street address in addition to the phone number.
  • Ask the person on the other end of the line to itemize the charges. In addition to the price of the arrangement, most florists charge a delivery fee and taxes if you live in the same state. If there are additional charges, ask what they are.

How to complain if you’ve been ripped off ---

The FTC recommends you do the following:

  1. If you placed an order through a wire service, a toll-free number, or a local florist, call the toll-free number of the florist and describe the problem. Many wire services will work with the filling florist to fix the problem or refund your money.
  2. If your arrangement was never delivered, and you paid by credit card, you can dispute the charges with the card issuer.

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