Have you been caught buying a dodgy product online yet? It’s probably only a matter of time. I have been caught with products from social in particular and I have learned over time how to distinguish a fake or scam site from a real business.
The social platforms need to also start to take some responsibility and protect consumers from them. Unfortunately, the likes of Instagram and Facebook allow them to advertise, despite many of them being reported. Dollars talk and these scammers are spending a lot of money to get your attention and your hard-earned dough.
I was looking at a company online yesterday which looked too good to be true so I got onto their live chat to ask them some questions. One of their claims was that you could cancel at any time but there were no contact details. On the chat they refused to give me a contact email, they would not tell me anything about the founder or point me to where I could see more about the company and staff.
They had a number of reviews but I couldn’t find any of these people on Google or LinkedIn.
This company was selling a subscription-type service that I guarantee would be a nightmare to get out of despite the ‘flashy’ claims to cancel at any time.
They also didn’t have any social media networks which I thought was odd, given they worked in the online world. Also making it hard for people to comment on them and report them.
Do your research and make sure they are real before buying from them!
There are so many of these fakes and scams on Instagram in particular. How to find them?
- You will often see the same product under different business names and when you click to their website they look identical but with different branding. For example, click on a fluffy dog bed and then you will start to get adds that look the same but have a different company name.
- Look at the price, especially clothing. If it’s cheap it’s likely a cheap chinese knock-off. These don’t look like the images they show online. The clothes (if they actually arrive 6 weeks later) do not look like the image, are a weird fit, usually not the same color, and poor quality
- Fake reviews – click on their reviewer’s profiles and many are new and only have 1-2 posts and a handful of followers. Also, if you try and find them on LinkedIn they don’t exist
- Search for company reviews on Google. Often there will be reviews reporting them as fake
If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
What to look for?
- Are they a real company. Do a search online to see if they actually exist.
- Do they have a contact email address or real address?
- Do they have the story about their founders or team members?
- Do they show their team members or staff on their website?
- Search for the reviewers or staff on LinkedIn and see if they are real
- Does the URL seem odd or weird – if something is off then something is off
- If you do buy then use Paypal and not your credit card
What you can do o impact change?
- Report them to Instagram or Facebook if they are fake.
- Tag Instagram in your post or response and ask them to do something about that advertiser
- Post comments on their ads and posts and warn others
- Don’t buy from them and tell others not to buy from them
- Complain to your Advertising Standards Authority
- Demand a refund from them if the product is not as shown. It might take a number of emails but be persistent.
Note: I am not saying that all companies that advertise are fake or scams. They are a lot of ethical, professional businesses you can buy from. But do your research first otherwise you are likely to get caught.