Over the course of the global pandemic, shopping digitally has become more “need” than “want.” Online sellers have become a dime a dozen as people look for ways to earn and sustain their families amidst all current uncertainties. But, of course, with the rise of online retail and activity also come unscrupulous individuals who look to take advantage. Scores of examples of bogus sellers have peppered comments sections and social media pages in the past few months more than ever.
So how then do we minimize the risks? We spoke with CheckMade, a group who came up with a badge system to identify credible online sellers that would help buyers weed out the bad from the good. They share the due diligence duties and some identifiable red flags that every buyer should know:
1. Know your sellers
Make it a habit to do a bit of background research about the sellers you are intending to buy from. Sift through the comments section of product posts for complaints. CheckMade also says that if these sellers are legitimate, it shouldn’t be difficult to find information about them and confirm they’re real.
2. Check the price
If the item’s price sounds too good to be true, CheckMade stresses, it’s most likely coming from an untrustworthy seller. If a third-party seller marked a product at half-off its regular price, be extra careful. Scams will often promise high returns for very little financial commitment, and may even use come-on messages such as “this deal is too good to miss.”
3. Trust your judgment
CheckMade says that customer reviews are a great guide, but always read them with a grain of salt as some can be faked and bought. Multiple identical or single-word user responses and reviews that say the same thing in eerily similar wording are red flags. Multiple positive reviews within a few days of each other suggest that these were on a scheduled timeline.
4. Make sure the contact details are legit
Before going through with a purchase, check the contact details several times to verify authenticity and validity, and then save them. CheckMade says that a part of their verification system is making sure that each seller could provide government IDs, an operational phone number, and a valid business address.
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5. Find out how long they’ve been operating
Buyers should check how long the seller has been operational before committing to a purchase. It makes a difference if a social media page has existed a day, a month, or a year. Communicate with them directly, CheckMade advises, and be wary that scammers often run multiple accounts for short periods of time.
For more information about CheckMade, visit their website.