The COVID-19 pandemic has made ordering takeout more popular than ever. Some restaurants even have set up their own websites to avoid the fees and challenges that come with food delivery apps such as DoorDash or GrubHub.

As always, scammers are quick to pick up on a trend. The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to watch out for fake food-ordering websites that can scam them out of their money and personal information.

How the scam works: You search for your favorite restaurant’s website to see if they offer delivery and a way to order online. Near the top of the search results, you find a website that looks like it belongs to the restaurant. Or you may find a third-party website that looks very professional and similar to popular food delivery services.

You click on the link, select your food and enter your credit card information to pay. Charges appear on your account, but the food never arrives. When you call the restaurant to see what’s happened, they are unaware of your order.

Turns out the website was a fake and scammers have your credit card information, address and other personal details.

Some consumers reported to BBB Scam Tracker accidentally ordering from fake websites called “Order Hero” or “Order Ventures.” But look out for other variations. Scammers often change the site name and continue their tricks under a different fake identity.

Use these steps to avoid scams when ordering takeout:

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 it offers 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 a 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.

If you’ve spotted a scam, whether or not you’ve lost money, report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help others avoid falling victim to scams.

Find more information about scams and how to avoid them at BBB.org/AvoidScams.

Reanna Smith-Hamblin is president and CEO of the Better Business chapter serving this region. She can be reached at 502-588-0043 or rsmith-hamblin@bbb.louisville.org.

Reanna Smith-Hamblin is president and CEO of the Better Business chapter serving this region. She can be reached at 502-588-0043 or rsmith-hamblin@bbb.louisville.org.