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Savings or scam? BBB warns Temu takes personal info, citing hundreds of complaints

Savings or scam? BBB warns Temu takes personal info, citing hundreds of complaints
Savings or scam? BBB warns Temu takes personal info, citing hundreds of complaints 03:02

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A consumer group has issued a warning about a wildly popular shopping app called Temu.

It offers deep discounts on all kinds of things from clothes to housewares. But what's the actual cost of those great deals?

CBS 2 Investigator Dorothy Tucker reports that a Chinese company is behind the app that the Better Business Bureau said 50 million people have already downloaded.

Now, the BBB is warning about all kinds of issues, from complaints about products and shipping to concerns over privacy.

What's yours is likely to become Temu's.

Since it popped on the scene in July last year and advertised during this year's Super Bowl, these deeply discounted deals have lured millions onto the Temu website and convinced them to download the app. A couple of taps, and you've hit sales gold.

But, since its launch 14 months ago, the BBB has received more than 900 complaints.

"You're expecting something different than you actually receive. Secondary delivering, not receiving in a timely manner, or not receiving it at all. That's where our concern is," said Bernas Steve Bernas, President and CEO of Chicago BBB.

Some of the complaints include:

*Poor Product Quality

*Shipping Delays

*Items Bought but not received

However, the BBB has more significant concerns than product quality, shipping delays, and paying for items never received. And that involves the company's privacy policy. Something else customers complained about.

It was hard to take in all the details on a small cell phone screen, but CBS 2 went online and downloaded the seven-page document.

Among the 4,758 words are many that raised a red flag with the BBB.

"They build a file on you," Bernas said.

Like many online companies, Temu tells you that it collects all kinds of information, from your name, phone number, and address to your birthdate, social media photos, and social security number.

It also automatically collects data from your phone, tablet, or laptop, information like the operating system, browsing history, and location data.

So, why is Temu on the BBB's alert radar now? Because its parent company is headquartered in China. The BBB is concerned scammers could gain access to all that information.

"The more information they get, the easier it is to steal their identity, especially with a company tied with China. You don't know where it's going, and the government has issued many warnings over the years. Because once you have all that data, they can use that data to harm the U.S. in some way."

So far, no response from Temu.

 We want your help with an upcoming investigation.

If you'd like to participate in the CBS 2 Investigators Fraud Survey, you can access it here. Results will be featured in an upcoming CBS 2 Investigation. It's just a few questions and takes a few minutes to complete. Please scan the code to take our survey. You can remain anonymous unless you choose to share your email with us.

9/21/2023 update from Chicago BBB:

"When BBB in Chicago published the release, we were unaware of Temu's efforts to work with the BBB in Boston to address customer complaints. Temu has been actively engaged with BBB to respond to concerns raised by consumers.  We refer everyone to the BBB Business Profile on Temu for the latest information on the company and to access BBB resources about safe online shopping."

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