Watch CBS News

How to avoid this common social media shopping scam

Tips for avoiding social media scams
Tips for avoiding social media scams 03:38

Social media apps aren't just a place for people to share photos and connect with friends. Platforms like TikTok and Instagram are rife with scam artists looking to prey on young people who are susceptible to buying things they see advertised on the apps. 

In 2022, online shopping scams were the second-most reported type of fraud to the Federal Trade Commission, behind investment scams. Not all of the cases reported took place on social media apps, but fraudsters are increasingly targeting the platforms to take advantage of unsuspecting users.

Scammers pose as businesses selling products like clothing, home goods and jewelry but in some cases, never deliver the goods, and steal individuals' credit card information 

The products in question are ones "that either don't show up at all or that show up not being quite what people ordered," Wall Street Journal reporter Julie Jargon told CBS News.  

How to avoid social media shopping scams

If you're shown a targeted shopping ad on a social media feed, don't make a purchase directly through the app. Click through to the seller's website and try to verify its legitimacy. 

"It's best to open a new browser and go to the product or company's website and check that out first to see if it's legitimate," Jargon said. "The other thing to do is just to Google the company or product."

Often times, people who have been targeted by bad actors will call them out in reviews or online forums like Reddit. 

Additionally, some sellers hawk low-quality products but mislead consumers in ads.

"The old adage that if it looks too good to be true then it probably is, is one of those key things to remember," Jargon warned. 

This typically applies to articles of clothing that aren't as advertised. 

There have also been instances of consumers handing over their credit card details only to receive empty boxes or plastic bags instead of home-organizing containers. 

"There are things that are complete scams," Jargon said. She spoke to a woman who purchased what were advertised as plastic shoe containers on TikTok.

What did she receive instead? A plastic bag, Jargon said. 

"Numerous other people had the same experience," Jargon said.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.