As TikTok evolves into a digital marketplace, its shopping feature presents a new terrain ripe with opportunities. However, this shift includes certain risks, particularly for the youthful demographic, who are Tiktok’s target audience and are not always well-informed about fraud on trading platforms. Let’s find out what shopping scams in TikTok and what you need to know to avoid being deceived by scammers.
The Rise of TikTok as a Shopping Hub
TikTok, known for its engaging content, has evolved into a popular site for shopping, attracting businesses to connect their stores with the platform. Thus, a staggering 48% of TikTok users have reportedly made app purchases, as The Better Business Bureau noted. This surge in e-commerce activity brings the peril of scams, where false advertisements and deceitful practices threaten to exploit the unwary shopper. Especially when the target audience is teenagers and youngsters who have no idea what scams are on the internet.
Understanding Scams on TikTok
We’ve looked at Instagram scams before; things are less widespread there, but TikTok is also trying to catch up. To know what to avoid, you need to understand how it works. Now we will look at the most common TikTok shopping scams:
Fake Products and Sellers
Since the beginning, the TikTok marketplace was conceived as a place where sellers could sell their goods at discounted prices, which was profitable. The problem is that the goods being promoted are not always genuine. In addition, there have been cases where the seller disappeared from TikTok after the item was purchased. Some fake businesses try to pass themselves off as genuine businesses. The most important sign that it is a scam is that the product is sold at an absurdly low price. Buying a product that is known to be fake is a waste of money.
This actually repeats the most widespread type of scams from other social media. Scams on Facebook or YouTube base on promoting a page with incredible discounts. Though, some specific features of TikTok allow for other directions of frauds.
Malicious Links in Bio
Scammers often place harmful links in their TikTok bio descriptions. They claim to offer free rewards, content downloads, coupon codes, etc. Usually, these links lead to Telegram channels that have nothing to do with what was promised. But sometimes, these links can cause installing malware, stealing login credentials, or just redirecting to harmful sites.
A bit of a spin-off from shopping scams which may be promoted in the same bundle. Scammers use fraudulent accounts to promise large sums of money or expensive prizes in exchange for a small upfront payment or personal information. They also claim to offer easy money. However, in reality, they are just trying to trick you. These types of scams use enticing offers of fast cash to trap you into giving away your personal and financial information or paying for fraudulent products. For example, they may use Ponzi scheme, fraudulent apps, or other tactics to lure you in.
Youth at Risk
Marketers are attracted to TikTok due to the platform’s unique ability to connect with a younger demographic in a highly engaging and creative environment. However, beneath the fascinating content lies a terrifying underbelly. As I wrote above, the target audience for TikTok is predominantly the younger generation. This is especially alarming because young people are not highly aware of TikTok shopping scams and are easily influenced by bad influences.
According to the same study, the most significant users who have purchased on the platform are between 10 and 19 years old. Overall, users between 10 and 29 comprise over 50% of the platform’s user base. Although TikTok vets its sellers and removes products that violate the platform’s Terms of Service, that doesn’t stop scammers. If a user violates these policies, their account may be temporarily disabled or even permanently deleted. But it’s easy for crooks to create a new account.
Recommendations for Users
Unfortunately, with any new service, there is a possibility of fraud. This is especially true for online shopping, as verifying a seller’s identity or background can be difficult. Consumers should vigilantly follow online shopping safety tips when using TikTok Shop. The following tips can help you save time and finances:
- Research the seller before you buy. It is essential to research the seller and their website before making a purchase. Prioritize purchasing from verified sellers, identifiable by a blue tick mark on their pages. Just because you see a product on TikTok doesn’t guarantee its authenticity or the seller’s trustworthiness.
- Read comments and reviews. Checking comments and reviews from other users is an effective way to assess new sellers. Additionally, you can utilize TikTok’s search bar to find videos uploaded by previous customers showcasing the products they bought. This will help you better understand the quality of the products being offered.
- Explore the return policy. You should watch out if the contact information is shady or unclear. Customers can request a return or refund within 30 days after the delivery of their package, according to TikTok Shop’s return policy.
- Pay attention to the URL. Always inspect the URL of retailer websites. Most retail websites have simple URLs like louisvuitton.com or cultbeauty.co.uk. However, if you see extra characters in the URL and additional words such as “super discounts,” “deals,” or “offers,” it’s probably a scam. This is especially true for online stores with “.shop,” “.site,” “.fun,” and “.top” domains.
Remember, Tiktok never asks for a password or any other confidential information. Any messages or emails sent with such requests are fraudulent. The easiest and most effective way to remove a fraudulent store is to send a report. If you notice suspicious activity, you can report it via a special form.