The rate of online scams has grown immensely over the decades. Social media platforms like Instagram are one huge marketplace where these scammers cast their big net to catch a lot of unsuspecting victims. Shopping on Instagram can be fun and, at the same time, leave a bad taste in your mouth.
Scammers set up empty online stores offering goods and services they cannot provide. Sadly, people will use good opportunities for bad things. These scammers spoil the excellent intention of different social media websites while casting a bad image for genuine online stores.
Knowing how to detect these fake online stores will save you a lot of stress and tears. This guide applies to all social media websites like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Knowing how to avoid getting scammed online is the best education and fortification we can do to protect ourselves on the internet.
The article highlight seven things to watch out for when shopping on Instagram:
1. Brand identity or Owner’s presence
A legit Instagram page has an identity attached to it, whether a small business or a large one. Bigger Instagram stores often use influencers to promote and market their products.
Although small businesses cannot afford influencers, they should be easily identified on their page. A legit business owner will post their original photos and videos promoting their products on their business page. Well, not all legit businesses do this, but we all know this adds credibility and peace of mind to buyers.
2. Phone number
Knowing if the phone number on the page works and how to get support should any issue arise is vital. Whether you trust an online business from its outlook or not, you still need to check if it is legit.
The best way to do this is to use Truecaller to ascertain if a number is genuinely affiliated with a store. If it is, then the name of the store or owner should appear, not any strange name.
3. Page engagement
The engagement on the page or account of the shop matters in how much you can trust an online store. Some suspicious pages have fake followers, so be sure to check the likes and comments on their posts. If the numbers are not commensurate with the number of followers on the page, then something is wrong.
Also, when checking the comment section, if you notice that the comments are turned off, that is a huge red flag. This happens because they don’t want their scammed victims to expose them. Always do your research regardless of your eagerness to make a purchase. Like I previously said, it will save you the tears.
4. Fake and unreliable Testimonials
When online stores post testimonials, if they are not testimonials of actual users on that social media site, then there might be a problem. It might be fake! If you are reading a phoney testimony, you will know. They contain too much praise, no detailed information, but affirmations to trust the store. If it all looks like it’s too good to be true, then, by all means, question it. A page that has an online store should have online customers.
5. Accepts part payment/No payment on delivery
Online stores that accept part payment are shady as hell. Genuine stores will not agree on part payment but payment on delivery, while fake stores will not compromise on payment on delivery. What do they have to send?
Also, If they charge you to pay before delivery, their delivery fee might be less than other online stores. Don’t trust it; it’s not like they have your best interest at heart. Real stores know what it costs to transport their product. They will factor in their interests, expenses, and profit and will not charge you on their loss except if they are on promo.
6. Change of names
Instagram allows users to see previous names that business pages have had in the past, including the date of creation. If it has changed more than twice, it could be suspicious.
To do this, you have to
- Go to the shop’s profile.
- Click on the three-dot menu in the top right corner.
- Select About this account.
- Select Former usernames. You will see the number of times the username has changed here. If it has not been changed, then you will see 0.
To conduct thorough research, you can google-search the previous names of the account and search on social media to know what people have said about it in the past.
7. No refunds
Let’s cut the chase. If an Instagram vendor or shop writes “No refunds XXX” boldly on their page, run!
DM for price: If a shop is serious about selling its product or service, the price should be visible at first glance. Sending a DM to get the cost of an item is a waste of time for both parties.
Verified pages: Some people make clones of popular brands to lure unsuspecting buyers into their scam den. Look for the verification badge or only use the link on the official website to visit their Instagram page.
Finally, this age of social media is exciting and engaging but can also be terrifying if we encounter bad experiences. Therefore, before making significant decisions, especially about your money, always look before you leap.