How to shop pre-loved fashion online safely: The key risks to avoid
Shopping for pre-loved fashion online can be a fun activity, but there are a few key risks you should be aware of and try to avoid
Shopping for pre-loved fashion online is not inherently dangerous, but sometimes can be tricky. Despite the increasing care that brands and online platforms put into preventing scams, being an informed shopper is the first step in protecting yourself.
7 risks of shopping pre-loved fashion
Here is a brief list of the key risks associated with shopping pre-loved fashion online:
There is a risk of purchasing counterfeit or fake goods when buying on the second-hand market, especially if you're not vigilant. In particular, scammers tend to advertise counterfeit luxury goods or popular brand-name items at seemingly attractive prices. If it seems too good to be true, well, maybe it’s a fake.
Non-delivery or Item Not as Described
In some cases, scammers may accept payment for an item but fail to deliver it or send a significantly different item than what they described or show in the listing. Other times, they may send you the right item, but in much worse condition than expected.
Scammers may pose as buyers and use fake payment confirmations or chargeback schemes to deceive sellers. They may claim they have made the payment but request the item be shipped before the payment is fully processed. Sometimes scammers may send counterfeit checks or overpay for items using fraudulent payment methods, requesting the excess amount to be refunded. Be cautious when dealing with buyers who request refunds or additional payments after the initial transaction and avoid refunding excess amounts until payments are fully verified.
Phishing and Identity Theft
Be cautious of phishing attempts where scammers may impersonate reputable fashion resale platforms or sellers to obtain personal information or login credentials. Avoid clicking on suspicious links, verify website URLs, and never share sensitive information unless you are confident in the recipient's legitimacy.
Shill bidding occurs when a seller artificially inflates the price of an item by using alternate accounts to place fake bids. This gives the impression of higher demand and may deceive legitimate buyers.
How to protect yourself while shopping pre-loved fashion
To protect yourself while shopping pre-loved fashion online, here are some important steps you can take:
- Research the seller/platform: Before making a purchase, thoroughly research the seller or platform from which you're considering buying. Look for reviews, ratings, and feedback from other users. Reputable sellers or platforms with positive customer experiences are generally safer options.
- Verify authenticity: If you're buying high-end designer items, it's crucial to ensure their authenticity. Look for platforms that have stringent authentication methods in place. If you can, familiarise yourself with the brand's authentic features, such as logos, stitching, tags, and materials. For unbeatable protection to avoid purchasing fake products, choose brands that equip their products with a digital product authentication feature. These enable buyers to quickly verify the product with their smartphone, even for products sold online. A list of brands with this feature can be found here.
- Pay attention to photos and descriptions: Carefully review the item's photos and read the description provided by the seller. Look for multiple high-quality images that clearly show different angles and details of the item. Look for any signs of wear, damage, or alterations. If the description lacks important information or photos are low quality, be cautious.
- Ask questions: Don't hesitate to reach out to the seller or the platform with any questions or concerns you may have. Inquire about the condition, sizing, authenticity, or any specific details you need clarification on. Reliable sellers and platforms should be responsive and willing to provide you with the information you need.
- Check return policies: Understand the seller's return policy before making a purchase. Look for a reasonable return window and clear instructions on how to initiate a return if the item does not meet your expectations. Be aware of any return shipping costs that you may be responsible for. A seller with a fair and transparent return policy can offer you more protection in case of issues with your purchase.
- Use secure payment methods: Opt for secure payment methods that offer buyer protection, such as PayPal or credit cards. These payment options often have dispute resolution processes that can help you if there is a problem with your transaction. Avoid making payments through unsecured methods like wire transfers or direct bank transfers, as they offer less recourse if something goes wrong.
- Trust your instincts: If something feels off or suspicious, trust your instincts. If a deal seems too good to be true or if the seller's behaviour raises red flags, consider finding another seller or platform.
Finally, if you encounter suspicious activity or suspect a scam, report it to the platform or relevant authorities to help protect other users from falling victim to similar schemes.
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