Did you realise that scammers are also operating from Amazon? Look out for these red flags.
While Amazon sells many products itself, the online store is also filled with third-party sellers taking advantage of the Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) program, and sellers that ship directly to the customer. This creates the possibility of Amazon scams.
Online shoppers need to remain vigilant, especially when shopping on platforms like Amazon. This article highlights some of the red flags to look out for, how to identify legit and fake sellers, and ways you can protect yourself against getting scammed.
Recognising red flags
If you practise due diligence by doing some research before purchasing from a seller for the first time, you can avoid scams. Fortunately, fake sellers and dodgy listings will almost always raise some red flags.
- One of the most obvious red flags is overly positive reviews, into which we’ll dig deeper in the next section.
- Prices that seem too cheap are also another good indicator that the listing is a scam or the product is fake.
- Generic and vague product descriptions are suspect.
- Poor grammar and spelling in product descriptions is another thing to look for.
Keep in mind that the majority of third-party sellers on Amazon are honest and legitimate, but you need to know what to look for to avoid the ones that are not.
Analysing seller feedback and ratings
Just because a seller’s product listing has loads of glowing reviews, that doesn’t guarantee legitimacy. One of the biggest cons on the platform is that of fake reviews. Amazon regularly deletes fake reviews, but it’s an ongoing issue.
If the seller has a lot of reviews, take the time to go through them with a critical eye. Were many reviews posted on the same date or dates that are very close together? That’s always a red flag. Look for the words “Verified Purchase” at the top of the review in red. This doesn’t guarantee the review is from a real buyer (it could have been the seller using a different account), but it’s a good indicator.
Legitimate reviews for a product and seller will appear over a period of time and there will often be a few negative reviews in the mix as well, even if the majority are four and five star ratings.
Checking seller information
Before purchasing from a seller for the very first time, it’s wise to take a moment and check their information. There’s a section beneath the “Add To Cart” or “Buy Now” buttons on the right hand side of the product page that provides further details. Click on the seller’s name next to “Sold By” to see seller information.
Here you can read more information about the seller, along with information on how to contact them with questions or concerns. Take note of their business name, address, and how long they’ve been selling on Amazon.
While many new sellers are certainly reputable, it’s wise to be a little wary of new accounts. Fake sellers often open many new accounts when previous accounts were shut down due to customer complaints. Missing information is also another red flag to be mindful of.
The role of product authenticity and counterfeit goods
The selling of counterfeit goods is yet another problem shoppers encounter on Amazon.
A dead giveaway of a fake or counterfeit product is the price. Compare the price of the item against others for sale and if it seems way too cheap, it’s likely fake. Poor image quality and product descriptions that have been word for word from another seller are also indicators of counterfeit goods.
It’s a good idea to visit the official websites of the companies and brands that manufacture the goods and then compare their images and descriptions with those of the seller’s Amazon product page.
Ways to protect yourself from scams
Understanding Amazon’s A-Z guarantee
Amazon takes customer satisfaction very seriously and the company fiercely protects its reputation. This is why they offer the A-Z Guarantee.
Amazon created this guarantee to protect customers when purchasing goods from third-party sellers on the platform. It covers buyers for both timely delivery and the condition of the goods. This includes products not matching the images or description.
If you encounter a problem and want to take advantage of this guarantee, do the following:
- Go to your “Orders” page and locate the order
- Select “Problem with Order”
- Choose the issue from the drop down list
- Select “Request Refund”
Contacting sellers before purchasing
It’s a good idea to contact a new seller first before committing to a purchase. This way, you can gauge their responsiveness and determine whether they sound legit or suspect. Access the seller’s information page as discussed above in “Checking seller information” and contact the seller by phone, email or chat. Whatever options are available.
Secure payment practices
When making a purchase on the Amazon platform, only ever use Amazon’s secure checkout process. Never send payment directly to the seller outside of the platform. If a seller requests this method, that’s a sure sign of a scam.
What to do if you encounter a scam
If you encounter a scam on Amazon, report it immediately. Go to the product page of the seller, click the “Report incorrect product information” link in product details, and then select “This product or content is illegal, unsafe or suspicious.” A representative from Amazon’s customer service team will usually get back to you within 24 hours with further information and steps you can take to claim a refund.
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