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Dropshipping has changed the way many people do business from their homes. Without having physical products, a dropshipper has very few expenses to contend with. With minimal technical knowledge in setting up a store, dropshippers act as a middleman between customers and a company supplying products.

A seller will typically start an online store through Shopify or a similar platform. Creating an account with suppliers like Sprocket or AliExpress, the seller lists their products for sale. At no point are the physical products actually shipped to the seller. Tap or click here for shopping text scams spreading right now.

Once a buyer places an order through the seller’s site, the required details are sent to Sprocket or AliExpress. The product is then shipped from AliExpress directly to the buyer. In the case of something like art prints, the data is sent to an approved printer, who then ships the final art piece to the buyer. If you buy from dropshippers, there are risks that you should know about. Let’s go over some of them now.

The dangers of a dropshipper

As a simplified example, the hugely popular Wish website is essentially a dropshipping platform. Wish as a company doesn’t hold any stock and acts as a go-between for customers and their own suppliers, often based in China.

Since a dropshipper acts as a middleman between the customer and the supplier, is there a need for them? Well, that depends on who you ask and is still very much open to debate. But one thing is for sure: if you are not careful, you could fall victim to a scam.

Shopify is one of the most-used platforms for online stores, which includes dropshipping. According to FakeSpot, as many as 20% of the stores surveyed either sold counterfeit goods, faked user reviews or had privacy leaks.

Counterfeit goods are a huge deal, as buyers can never be sure that the product they ordered is genuine. In many cases, items that do arrive might be legitimate but of vastly inferior quality. And there is often no recourse that buyers can take.

According to Shopify’s Acceptable Use Policy, sellers are not allowed to sell products that infringe on others’ copyright or trademarks. A spokesperson for the platform commented that they have multiple teams to deal with the issue.

“We have multiple teams who handle potential violations of Shopify’s Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) which clearly outlines the activities that are not permitted on our platform, including copyright infringement, and we don’t hesitate to action stores when found in violation,” they told CNBC.

What can you do about it?

There are several ways in which you can protect yourself from falling victim to a scam. Traditionally, online reviews would be your first indication of the store’s reputation. But since reviews can be faked, using FakeSpot is a good option.

The Google Chrome extension will let you know if there are fake reviews for a product that you are viewing. It scans and analyzes reviews on the Shopify platform and others, including eBay, Amazon, Best Buy, Sephora and Walmart.

Where possible, try to get as much information about products you’re buying from the store’s owner. If you have any questions, reach out to them and wait for a reply. Depending on the time it takes to respond or the answers given, decide if you want to proceed.

And always remember: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. You might score a discount through a dropshipper, but you could wait several months to receive your product. Or not at all.

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