How to Avoid Scams From Fake Social Media Vendors
Social media has become integral to our lives, from keeping in touch with friends and family to making professional connections to conducting business transactions. Unfortunately, social media has also become a breeding ground for scammers.
One of the most prevalent scams on social media involves fake vendors who deceive buyers into sending them money for non-existent products. Oftentimes, they make promises to deliver when the buyer has sent a certain percentage of the product’s cost but end up blocking the buyer after receiving payment.
According to Statista, 78.8 percent of consumers worldwide who were victims of online purchase scams lost money in 2020. Though this rate decreased slightly in 2021, it’s still quite a high margin to be concerned about.
The high scam rate has caused distrust issues in the online marketplace and made buyers see every vendor on social media as a scam. However, there are millions of legitimate vendors out there. So, if you’re a buyer looking for ways to avoid scams from fake vendors, this article will provide valuable and actionable tips.
Types of Social Media Vendor Scams
There are many types of social media vendor scams; being conscious of them is the first step to avoid falling victim. Here are a few you should take note of:
- Fake Accounts
Fraudsters create fake social media accounts, often with a convincing profile and business information, to sell products or services. They steal real product pictures from vendors and create attractive business logos to appear legitimate.
They also hire fake customers to drop awesome reviews on their posts. The idea is to appear real and trustworthy to get buyers to send money without questioning their legitimacy. Once they’ve received the payment, they block the buyer and move on to the next victim.
- Phishing Scams
Here, scammers disguise their messages or phishing links to appear to be from legitimate companies and send them to unsuspecting customers on social media. In the messages, they’d demand the buyer’s personal or financial information to enable them to complete a transaction. Alternatively, they can direct you to a fake website where your information or money would be stolen while you complete a transaction.
- Counterfeit Goods
Another way vendors can scam you on social media is by selling counterfeit or knock-off versions of popular products you know. This scam is peculiar to people who love designer clothes, bags, and other luxury fashion accessories. They also sell fake electronic products with the logos of the original brands.
- Subscriptions Scams
This is common among vendors that offer services on social media. The scammers here offer free trials or subscriptions to exclusive content or services, but they require you to enter your payment information when registering. Once the free trial ends, they may keep charging recurring fees or use the payment information provided to empty your account.
How to Identify Fake Social Media Vendors
Identifying a fake social media vendor is daunting, as most scammers make their profiles convincing enough to appear legitimate. They also have a way of buying fake customer reviews and comments to make their profiles seem active and real to their unsuspecting buyers. However, here are some important tips that can help you identify fake social media vendors:
Check the Vendor’s Profile
The first step in identifying a fake vendor on social media is to examine their profile. Most legitimate social media profiles have detailed business descriptions, clear and professional-looking logos, and profiles with their contact information clearly written.
It could be a red flag if a vendor’s profile looks incomplete or unprofessional, especially if vital information like address, phone, and email are missing.
Research the Vendor’s Website
A vendor’s profile is insufficient to check whether they’re legit. That’s why serious vendors have websites that provide further information about their business. However, some fake vendors also create websites to deceive their customers.
Therefore, you must pay attention to details when researching the website. A poorly organized or scanty website might signal you’re about to patronize a fake vendor.
It’s also important to check if the website has an SSL certificate, which guarantees the safety of your information on the website.
Look for Real Customer Reviews
It’s easy for fake vendors to buy reviews from people who have never used their products. They also create multiple accounts to review their products by themselves. To identify fake vendors in this regard, do further research on the individual products being reviewed and, if possible, go through the social media profile of the reviewers.
If the majority of the reviewers have their accounts newly created, it’s a big red flag you should take note of.
Beware of Overly Good Deals
If the deal looks too good to be true, it’s a sign you should further dig into the vendor’s legitimacy. Scammers are familiar with using mouthwatering deals with ridiculously low prices to lure unsuspecting buyers, only to make away with their money and leave them heartbroken.
Trust Your Guts
If something doesn’t feel right about a social media vendor, trust your instincts and let the deal go. It’s better to lose a deal and be safe than to regret taking the deal.
Tips to Avoid Social Media Vendor Scams
Research the Vendor
Before making a purchase from a social media vendor, take some time to research them. Research their profiles and websites, read reviews about their products and services, and ask friends and family who might have used their services.
To be safe, patronize only vendors with verified badges and a traceable history of selling on that platform.
Verify Payment Methods
Work with vendors who accept traceable payment methods. Most social media scam vendors will ask you to make payments using a phishing link or to an unknown account. If the account name is totally different from the vendor’s social media name, it’s a sign you’re dealing with an impostor.
Be Cautious of Overly Good Deals
Some overly good deals are baits to lure you into scams; avoid falling for them. Low prices are the most common way fake social media vendors scam buyers. So, if you’re offered a Louis Vuitton bag worth N100,000 for N20,000, that’s clear evidence you’re about to be scammed.
Don’t Give Out Sensitive Information
Avoid entering sensitive financial and personal information into every website a vendor directs you to. Do not also give out such information if the vendor requests it. Legitimate vendors do not ask for your private information to process your order.
Activate Two-Factor Authentication
Most banks require you to provide a one-time password when performing a transaction or a secure token to log into your banking accounts. This will save you from scammers who would try to gain access to your accounts without your permission.
Use Trusted and Secure Escrow Services
Platforms like Peppa.io provide escrow services to protect vendors and their customers, ensuring both parties keep to their sides of the agreement.
Peppa.io provides a safe deposit to collect and hold customer payments and release them to the vendor when the customer confirms satisfactory service.
Vendors can link their social media profiles to their Peppa.io profiles to enable customers to easily identify the real profiles. Even more, Peppa.io performs background checks and ensures every member’s identity is documented before allowing them to perform transactions on the platform.
Peppa.io way of vetting members ensures there’s trust between vendors and their customers, and this helps to boost sales massively.
Social media vendor scam is a huge enemy of peaceful online retail transactions in Nigeria and the world. Genuine vendors have to go the extra mile to prove to buyers they are genuine, and buyers find it increasingly more difficult to buy online, making the e-commerce ecosystem struggle to grow.
However, with platforms like Peppa.io, the e-commerce world will see tremendous growth within the shortest possible time.