How to Avoid Online Shopping Scams on Social Media”

How to Avoid Online Shopping Scams on Social Media

Newly published data from a UK based bank revealed that over two thirds of online shopping scams begin on the social media platforms Instagram and Facebook.

This alarming figure signifies how savvy fraudsters are utilising social media to prey on unsuspecting shoppers, who are in search of a deal. There has been a rise in online scammers creating fake business pages, social media ads, and even fake online stores.

Fortunately, Nick Drewe, Retail Expert at online discounts platform, Wethrift has compiled a list of key things that you can be vigilant for when spotting a purchase scam on social media.

Is the deal too good to be true?

If a ‘deal’ you see circulating around social media looks too good to be true, that means it probably is. A product or service being advertised on social media for what seems an excessively low price can be a sure indicator of a potential purchase scam. Always trust your gut and use logic for whether a deal is legitimate or not.

Is the business page new?

Fraudsters are getting savvy when it comes to replicating a brand’s social media pages, or creating an entirely fake retailer, so it’s important to check out the page itself.

Does the page seem new with a lack of posts and a low number of followers/likes, and engagement? This could indicate that the page is fake and merely attempting to replicate an established business, or a new division of a business.

Is the branding correct?

Often, when scammers are replicating a brand’s page, they can get a little sloppy when it comes to the branding. Low quality images and logos, poorly photoshopped designs, or using outdated branding are key things to look out for on a brand’s social media page.

Does the URL look suspicious?

Hover your cursor over the URL, which the post or ad is asking you to click through to, but don’t click it until you’re sure it’s safe. Do a quick Google search for the brand name and check that the URL matches the official site.

Often, social media purchase scammers will create a URL that is a close resemblance, but there will often be subtle differences that could easily be missed.

Are you being asked to pay via bank transfer?

The majority of purchase scams on social media will ask for unsuspecting shoppers to pay for items via bank transfer. No legitimate business will ask for you to do this, so this is a sure sign of a scam.

Always shop social media with a retailer who facilitates paying through secure methods such as credit card or PayPal, which has buyer protection.

A secure website URL that you see on social media will always have ‘https’ and a closed padlock symbol at the beginning of the URL, which means it is safe to purchase goods through.

Don’t be fooled just because it’s a paid advertisement

Often, many shoppers can be tricked into believing a retailer is legit due to them using paid social media ads. Remember, any business page can create an ad on Facebook and Instagram, so don’t automatically assume that a paid ad is safe to click-through and purchase goods from.

Look for reviews

No reviews is a sure sign that a business page on social media is fake – look at the reviews section on the Facebook page, as well as doing a quick Google search for “[brand name] reviews”.

Check with the company directly

If you are still unsure, it’s always better to be safe than sorry – contact the brand directly through their official channels to ensure that a deal you see promoted on social media is legitimate and safe.

Online shop deals that have been promoted from official channels

The rise of online purchase scams on social media signifies how important it is to only shop deals that come from official channels, such as signing up to your favourite brands mailing lists to access deals.

This is why the team at Wethrift conducted a study into which retailers are promoting the most deals and discounts to their mailing lists.

Read More: Who Do You Trust with Your Social Security Number?

In joint first place, with 84% of marketing emails being dedicated to discount codes was fashion giant, Fashion Nova. The fast fashion brand operates primarily online, with just five brick and mortar premises, so it is unsurprising to see that the brand is so prolific when it comes to promoting online discount codes to entice shoppers.

Also at 84% was fashion retailer, Old Navy, owned by Gap. Due to the fashion retailer having a monthly overhaul of stock, they are likely relying on online discount codes to overhaul and make way for new stock items to come in towards the end of each month.

It is interesting to see high-end department store Macy’s dedicating 82%of emails to promoting discount codes. A likely sign of times, as high-end retailers are having to entice shoppers with deals and discounts, due to shoppers cutting back on expensive, non-essential items due to continuing increases to the cost of living.

The brands that are offering the most discount codes in their marketing emails can be found below.

Methodology: Taking a seed list of popular brands in the US, we have uncovered which offer the most deals and discounts, based on the percentage of emails received over a month period.


Credit Wethrift






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