I had a recent call from a customer who was concerned they had been a victim of a scam. They had purchased some branded accessories from an advert, that had appeared on their timeline on a social media platform. I am sure users of this kind of platform will have seen the “too good to miss opportunity sale” that I am talking about.  Usually from established brands such as Ray-Ban, Oakley, Ecco etc. Sometimes brands you have never heard of, but the products look like fantastic value for money. The adage “If a deal looks too good to be true”, it is probably not true.

Setting up a website that looks official and has an air of a quality supplier, is the work of a moment. It may indeed have a user-friendly lock in the URL. All this means is that the information you exchange with the website owner is done in a secure fashion. Which is great if that website is from a trusted supplier, such as the official pages of your high street retailer or supermarket. If you do not know who the website owner is, not so much.

How can you distinguish between who is a legitimate retailer and who is not? The sort answer is you cannot. But you can take steps to check the validity of who they claim to be. If the transaction is taking place entirely within the auspices of a social media platform, my advice would be to not use it. Outside the platform look carefully at the URL they have directed you to. If it is not the official URL of the brand they claim to be, do not use it. If it is a retailer you do not recognise, check to see if they have reviews on Trustpilot or other established review platforms.

Some of these suppliers may be perfectly legitimate but have exceptionally long lead times on delivery. This is maybe because they are a ‘drop-shipper’. This type of retailer takes your order and your money and subsequently places the order on their supplier, who then ships the goods direct to you. The point at which they place the order on their supplier may vary depending on variety of factors. e.g. they may be required to purchase a certain quantity of an item, or have a total minimum order value, or perhaps required to order mix, across a range of products etc…  All of which will have an influence on how soon you get your goods, if at all.

Some of these suppliers are totally rogue and are phishing for information. You are freely giving them details about yourself; Name, Address, Email, Date of birth, possibly even a password which may be the same as a password you use for another secure service (don’t do this, use unique passwords). If a transaction is involved, and they do not allow you to use a PayPal account you may need to provide your credit card details and CVV number. My advice is; no matter how good the deal looks do not buy from this type of online retailer.