Expert reveals how to avoid getting scammed on TikTok Shop, amid concerns about fraudulent sellers

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This article is brought to you by Retail Technology Review: Expert reveals how to avoid getting scammed on TikTok Shop, amid concerns about fraudulent sellers.

TikTok has become one of the biggest social media platforms in recent years, and the introduction of TikTok Shop has only increased this popularity due to its accessibility and affordability – but this does not come without risks.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) revealed that almost half (48%) of TikTok users have purchased something they’ve seen on the app, putting a lot of users at risk of being scammed by dishonest third-party sellers, as the marketplace attracts fraudulent sellers.

Young users could be especially affected, with the app’s largest demographic being 10-19-year-olds, which is concerning as they likely have reduced awareness around identifying a scam. 
QR code expert QRFY.com has identified five ways to help shoppers recognise fraud on TikTok Shop and prevent them from losing money as a result of devious practices. 

Stick to verified sellers and look for contact information

Potential buyers should research a shop before deciding to make a purchase. Many people do this anyway when shopping online, but they should be extra thorough on TikTok Shop, which features products from independent third-party sellers such as Depop and eBay. 

One thing users can do is check shop ratings and reviews to see previous customers’ experiences with the seller. Since almost anyone can sell on TikTok, it’s best to avoid unverified sellers. Verified shops have a blue tick mark, indicating that they are who they say they are.  

Furthermore, make sure that the seller has an established presence off TikTok. Users can search to see whether a small business has a website or a profile on other social media websites or online marketplaces, such as Vinted. 

When deciding whether a seller is legitimate, users should look for ways to contact them. Trustworthy shops should provide clear and accessible contact information, such as an email address, phone number or business website, and should be responsive when reached out to. 

Be aware of ‘too good to be true’ ads

Consumers should be aware of advertisers on TikTok who are paid to promote a product. These adverts can be misleading and do not necessarily represent the advertiser’s true opinion, and there’s no guarantee that the advertiser has used the product.  

Luckily, TikTok advertisers operate under full transparency, and paid-for adverts are labelled as such. After recognizing an ad, potential buyers should avoid making an impulsive purchase, making sure they research the product and think about whether they genuinely want or need it. 

TikTok shop thrives on the instant gratification of a fast purchase and content creators can take advantage of impressionable people who are easily influenced. It’s a good idea for users to take a step back from the app and consider whether they’d buy the product if they saw it elsewhere. 

Understand TikTok protections and check for secure payment options

Shoppers should be aware of the protections offered by TikTok and their limitations. The app offers refunds within 30 days for products that never arrive, are defective or do not match their description, but it is unclear how well-regulated this is.  

Consumers can also report fraudulent sellers and products that break the rules. Despite this, many people still have issues – scams are common, and TikTok ultimately takes no responsibility for sales made on the app.  

Furthermore, TikTok claims to vet sellers, but many people have found creating a shop to be too easy. Users shouldn’t rely on the app’s protections to cover them in case a sale goes awry and should instead exercise caution. 

Users should only purchase if secure, trusted payment methods like PayPal or credit cards that offer buyer protection are available. This feature ensures that users are covered by their credit card company if the purchase turns out to be a scam. 

Avoid purchasing certain products that carry a high risk

Electricals are a risky purchase as those found on online marketplaces are not subject to the same safety checks as those sold by retailers. Therefore, electricals sold on TikTok Shop, particularly by unverified sellers, could be unsafe or faulty.  

These items also tend to be expensive, and therefore purchasers risk losing a lot of money should the item prove fraudulent. Shoppers should also only purchase items that feature high-quality photos taken by the seller to ensure they have the product they claim to be selling.  retailer. 
Health and beauty products, or anything perishable, may also not have undergone the appropriate testing or safety regulations. Double check their validity before purchasing them as they may be unsafe. 

Ultimately, users should be conscious of what a responsible purchase is to them. Buying anything valuable or important on TikTok shop could backfire. If not receiving a purchase would be emotionally or financially distressing, consider other retailers. 

Research prices, and trust your instincts

Unreasonably low prices that cannot be matched elsewhere are a red flag and are likely to be too good to be true. Consumers should be particularly careful when shopping for branded or designer items and understand that if these are being sold cheaply, they may be counterfeit. 
If the shop lacks professionalism or just doesn’t feel right, consumers should steer clear. Users should use their common sense and always weigh up whether the risk is worth the reward –TikTok Shop is unlikely to ever be the safest and most reliable option. 

Speaking on the risks of TikTok shop, a spokesperson from QRFY.com said: “TikTok is a very user-friendly platform, to the point where it is relatively easy for anyone to pose as a seller and scam people. TikTok does have protections and regulations in place, but it's very possible for fraudulent sellers to slip through the cracks.  

“Staying vigilant and conducting thorough research are the most important things users can do when making a purchase on TikTok shop. These can be easy traps to fall into, so be as certain as possible that you know where your money is going and what product you will be receiving.  

“Users must remember that purchases are at their discretion and that they must use their own judgement to decide whether a product is legit. These five steps will hopefully allow consumers to shop safely, but if credibility or legitimacy is ever in doubt, it’s best to look elsewhere.”

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