CONSUMER FIRST ALERT: Avoid TikTok shopping scams

Brands and influencers are using social media to get you to shop. So are scammers.
Published: Nov. 28, 2022 at 12:52 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - On this Cyber Monday, a Consumer First Alert about online shopping scams.

The Better Business Bureau specifically put out an alert about shopping on TikTok. The social media app is hot right now, and brands and influencers are encouraging you to shop. But so are scammers.

According to a study, 49% of TikTok users said they purchased something they saw on the app. In-app shopping was added last year and expanded to “live shopping,” allowing creators and brands to sell products directly through videos.

TikTok is all about scrolling and quick looks -- and sellers (and scammers) are relying on that impulse buy. You need to take time before you give anyone your money.

The same precautions for online shopping apply to TikTok:

  • High-price items at a big discount could be fake.
  • Research the seller. Make sure they have plenty of account engagement, meaning they have followers who comment on their posts and review their products.
  • If you’re unhappy with a product, act fast. According to TikTok, buyers have 6 days from when a product is marked as delivered to make a return or refund request.

The BBB further recommends you make online purchases with a credit card rather than a debit card. A credit card offers you more protection if an order never arrives or there’s an issue and you need to dispute the charge.

Whenever you’re shopping online, the Wisconsin Better Business Bureau says to make sure you use online stores you know and always research a seller. Check their BBB ratings. Use a search engine, like Google, with the company name and words like “scam” or “complaint,” which can help you narrow down search results to reviews or anything suspicious.

Be careful clicking on links to websites from email. They can offer free products or a huge discount. But the link might lead to a scam site or download malware to your computer.

“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” Tiffany Schultz, regional director of Wisconsin’s BBB, reminds us. “Anything from online shopping and you see a great price, really dig into that. Is it a legitimate retailer? Is it a retailer you’ve heard of? That you’ve purchased from before? Always do some digging.”

Schultz continues, “If the website is full of spelling errors, grammatical errors, if it’s missing a phone number, Google the address. Is it a real place of business? Read the privacy policy. Are you comfortable with it, with what they’re doing with your personal information? Really make sure the retailer you’re shopping is legitimate this holiday season.”