EDMONTON -- The advertisements often pop up on your social media feeds, beautiful photos of products for a fraction of the price you’d expect.

“The problem with pretty pictures is that they can be stolen,” consumer advocate Julie Matthews told CTV Morning Live Edmonton.

Those extremely low prices are often a sign of counterfeit products and disreputable business practices.

You could end up with a product that doesn’t match your expectations or nothing at all.

But Matthews says you can avoid the risks by doing your homework.

“First thing you should do is right-click on that image, it’ll bring up the drop-down menu and it’ll allow you to search Google for that image. Do that first,” she said. “See how many other websites might be advertising  the same dress, the same item, what’s the price and have they stolen it from another website.”

Next, research the company and read the online reviews. Even with the chance of fake reviews, you will see a pattern of complaints if they are not delivering on their promises.

Matthews also recommends checking the company’s rating with the Better Business Bureau.

If you don’t receive your order or it isn’t what you expected, make an effort to let them resolve the issue. Contact the company and see what they will do.

And if that doesn’t work, many credit card companies offer extra protection for online purchases.

Alberta consumers are also protected by the Internet Sales Contract Regulation.

“If you don’t receive an item within 30 days of the day you were supposed to, the business has to refund your money. And if they don’t, that legislation also says that the credit card company has to refund you or reverse the charges within 90 days,” Matthews said.

The Internet Sales Contract Regulation applies to Alberta residents and people purchasing from Alberta businesses that sell online.