Facebook Shopping: Tips to Avoid Being Scammed

Now that Facebook has passed the billion-user mark, it has become a part of most of our daily lives. The site is always reinventing itself, posing not just as a facilitator of staying in touch with high school friends and colleagues, but also as a supplier of news and a hub for e-commerce. The site can be a great way for users to become acquainted with new products and services, but you still have to be wary of “too good to be true” deals and scams.

Recently, I was targeted for one of those amazing new products at a “too good to be true” price.  I was so excited that I did not research the product before finalizing my checkout.   After a week it crossed my mind that I never received an email confirmation or any confirmation.  I did of course have a $149 charge on my bank account for the product.  Now I decided to do some research to see when I would receive this amazing item.  To my horror I could not find the Facebook Ad I bought it from so I frantically researched the manufacturer.  Wow! What a surprise to find out it was still in production and was not even for sale yet.  After continuing my research I found that the “fake” website had been taken down.  Of course I contacted my bank, but I thought about all the other poor souls that did the same thing I did. 

Many consumers report receiving low-quality items that rarely live up to or even resemble their online descriptions. Here are some tips on how to avoid online scams and Facebook scams like this one, by knowing what to look for before you click “Shop Now”.

Questions to Ask Before Making a Purchase

The first line of defense you should employ prior to making a purchase through social media is your own intuition and observation. Do you recognize the site offering the product? Does the item or its price appear too good to be true?

Online shopping is typically cheaper than purchasing similar items from brick and mortar retailers, but you should be able to spot a price that is just too good. If you are looking at how to avoid online frauds, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is the sites return policy?
  • Do purchases made through the site come “as is” or do they represent a “final sale”?
  • Where does the product ship from?
  • Is there a toll-free number you can call if you never receive it or if it needs to be returned?

Check Reviews Online

Another way to vet online and social media merchants prior to taking them up on their offers is to perform a quick Google search of the website so you can read reviews from other consumers. You can also check the merchants ratings through eBay, Amazon, the Better Business Bureau and other aggregators of online shopping.

A bad seller rating typically means that delivered products do not meet consumer expectations, or that the company is difficult to deal with if a problem arises with shipping or other aspects of the transaction.

Look For Trust Badges & Other Security Measures

Avoiding being trapped in Facebook scams and other online shopping fraud is not as difficult as it may seem. When you visit an e-commerce website, make sure that your connection with that website is secure prior to giving out any of your personal or credit card information.

Reputable sites should have “https” in the beginning of the sites URL, for example. On these sites, the “S” stands for “secure.” Reputable sites should also feature badges from Internet security companies like Verisign or McAfee in the sites footer area.