Most of us have been stung by fake companies on Facebook and Instagram peddling products with ads. Our social media feeds are jammed with ads and not all of them are real.
Over time I have taught myself how to pick a scam and to minimise the risk of being ripped off.
This is what I look out for:
- The company doesn’t have a profile but they are running ads
- Their profile is private with only a handful of posts so again doesn’t look legit
- They have bad reviews – go and search review sites like Google My Business, Amazon, and Yelp
- They have fake reviews (start by looking at the profiles of the people leaving reviews – many are fake or bots)
- Google the name of the company they are advertising under. Often they use fake names and the company you are buying from doesn’t exist
- You see the same ad with different company names (very common and a big red flag)
- If the product looks too good to be true, it probably is – a bit of common sense needs to prevail.
A few other checks you can try
If you are still not sure, here are a few other things you can try BEFORE you buy:
- Send them an email and see if you get a response (in a timely manner)
- Ask a lot of questions before buying – a legit company is happy to answer them
- Check their language and spelling. A lot of Asian scammers use Ma’am as a way of addressing you and also American English which is often full of mistakes.
- Find out what their refund policy is (this doesn’t protect you, but you want to make sure they at least have one)
- Do they have a real email address? Many scammers will only have a form you can fill out.
- Do they have secure checkout along with a secure website (look for the padlock).
- Do a company look up. Here is one you can try but there are others https://transparencyreport.google.com/safe-browsing/search
- If you do purchase, do it with Paypal so you can report them and request a refund under their buyer protection.
Unfortunately, the only 100% way to not get ripped off is to never buy anything online but this is not really practical for many of us. Stay vigilant and do some research before handing over your credit card or making impulse buys.
Hope this helps you!