You’ve probably heard it before: if something seems too good to be true, then it probably is. But with all the legitimate deals, discounts and money-saving opportunities available these days, how can you tell the good from the bad?
It’s not always very simple, and according to a recent report from Buzzfeed News, companies offering ‘great deals’ on Facebook are causing some big problems.
Watch out for sketchy clothing companies on Facebook
When you see what looks like a great deal on Facebook (or anywhere online) — for example, a super cute dress with a super cheap price tag — you might hesitate at first. But then there’s that feeling that you could be missing out on a seriously good deal, so you check it out.
Maybe you’ve never heard of the website, but it has millions of likes on Facebook, great photos of all the products, and the page even posts links back to its site several times a day — so what’s the problem?
Read more: 5 scams to watch out for on Facebook
According to Buzzfeed’s investigation, what people thought they were ordering and what actually came in the mail ended up being two very different things — and thousands of women have lost money buying products that turn out to be nothing like what was pictured in the glamorous photos.
Turns out, behind these too-good-to-be-true deals is a group of Chinese clothing companies, ‘operating under a trove of names like Zaful, SammyDress, DressLily, RoseGal, RoseWe, TideBuy, Choies, and RomWe,’ according to the report.
And while the products are sold at cheap prices, apparently business is good.
‘Analysis by BuzzFeed News shows that at least eight of [the companies] are connected to one Chinese e-commerce company that made more than $200 million in sales in 2014,’ states the report. That same e-commerce company was then acquired by one of China’s biggest clothing companies.
Here’s a photo from one group on Facebook that’s warning others about these types of scams.
And here’s an example of what an ad from one of these companies looks like.
Just like other phishing and online scams, the ads and websites look pretty legit. They use professional photos and slap security certificates on their site — convincing even skeptical shoppers that the company seems like the real deal.
Until your order arrives — which likely is too small, a weird color, terrible material or a combination of all three. And good luck getting in touch with the company. There’s very little chance that you’ll get your $7.99 back — and many people just brush it off, because after all, it’s just $7.99.
But here’s the bigger problem: scams like this are thriving, and if you don’t take the necessary steps to protect yourself, you could end up falling for the wrong one — and lose a lot more than just a few bucks.
Read more: 4 ways to spot a fake online review
How to spot a fake seller on Facebook (or anywhere online)
As the scammers become more advanced, it becomes more difficult for consumers to be able to tell the difference between what’s a real deal and what’s not.
But when it comes to spotting sketchy companies on Facebook, or anywhere online, there are a few red flags you should look for, as well as ways you can protect yourself!
- The Facebook page has zero negative reviews or comments.
- If you can’t find a phone number or address for the company.
Extra steps to protect yourself:
- If you find the offer on Facebook, go to the company’s website directly to check it out.
- Search for reviews of any source you don’t recognize and/or check with the Better Business Bureau online here.
Ignore the urgency: Make sure you can verify the legitimacy of the offer before handing over any personal information. Scams will often try to get you to act before thinking twice by creating a sense of urgency. Don’t fall for it!
Confirm the contact information: Check to see if you can find a real address and/or phone number from the company, and then check to see if the address is in fact a real place.
Make sure the payment process is done through a secure connection: Before you enter your credit card information, confirm that the URL starts with “https”—the “s” stands for “secure”—and has a lock icon in the browser bar.
Never purchase anything online with a debit card. A credit card will give you more protections if it ends up being a scam.
Read more: How to spot a fake coupon offer online