If you're doing any holiday shopping on Instagram, you should be wary of scammers, the Better Business Bureau says in a new warning.
According to the BBB, over the past several months, there has been an uptick in reports from shoppers who paid hundreds of dollars for hard-to-find shoes or custom sneakers on Instagram, but never received what they were promised.
Here's how people fall for the scam. It starts with a post or sponsored ad you see on Instagram for a pair of sneakers. The account will appear to be run by someone who collects and resells sneakers, and will seem legitimate. To buy the sneakers, the account will say, all you have to do is send a direct message to the seller. Once you've been communicating with the seller, who sends enough pictures of the shoes to convince you they are real, they will ask you to make a payment using CashApp, Venmo or another online payment service.
"You make the payment and wait for your new sneakers to be delivered," the BBB says in a new release. "Days turn into weeks, and the shoes never arrive. When you contact the seller, they may promise you a refund, which never materializes."
According to the BBB, one shopper who fell for this scam and reported it said that after several attempts to get a refund, “the merchant blocked me on social media where I originally contacted him and he also blocked my number, making me unable to call him or any (of his) associates.”
While Instagram does have a Purchase Protection Policy to help consumers, it doesn't protect you if you fall for this type of scam due to how you will usually pay for the item.
"Use onsite checkout on Facebook or Instagram to complete your payment for the purchase. Purchases made through third-party sites, local pickups, Messenger transactions, or through other messaging services do not qualify," the policy states.
However, the BBB does have the following tips so you don't get sneaker swindled.
- Research the seller. Read the comments and reviews of other consumers on the seller’s social media accounts and website, and on BBB.org. If other buyers make negative comments or report not receiving merchandise they paid for, steer clear. Review the seller’s website carefully to make sure it is secure and legitimate before making a purchase. If they say they are an authorized reseller, verify that claim.
- Use a safe payment method. Apps like Venmo, Facebook Pay, CashApp, and the like may seem like convenient ways to pay, but this kind of app was designed to allow friends, family members, and coworkers to send each other money. BBB advises against using payment apps with strangers; instead, use a credit card.
- Don’t be pressured to make a quick purchase. Many scammers try to pressure you to buy, even if the deal doesn’t quite feel right. They may claim “this is the last pair of sneakers they have in stock” or “it’s a deal that won’t last long because the sneakers are a collectible pair worth much more than the selling price.” Never purchase under pressure. Do your research first, then buy.