How to Protect Yourself When Buying Shoes Online
It would seem that everyday someone is falling for a new online scam. Buyer, seller, middleman, there's scams that put everyone at risk. However, if you keep a few things in mind when buying from an online seller, you can do your best to mitigate your chances of being the next in line.
Never gift payments to someone you don't trust
Sending as 'friends and family' or 'gifting' is a method of sending money through PayPal that is basically 'no strings attached'. There is zero protection from PayPal if you send with this method. It makes it very easy for a scammer to take your money and run.
Let's say you are interested in a new pair of sneakers that just came out. You found someone on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook that is selling those exact shoes for a really good price. You would want to hop on that right away before they are gone, right? So you contact the seller and they may provide you with more pictures, tell you how nice the shoes look, tell you that it's a good price and they can ship right away. However, when they ask for payment, they ask for PayPal gift. This is very large red flag. Assuming this seller would be interested in scamming you, you could send the money to them, and they could disappear without any ties to you, your money, and the shoes you just 'purchased'.
Ask for tagged pictures
A method that is very popular when selling online is to tag a picture with some personal information. That can be the username the seller is using on whatever platform you're on, the current date, the user you are interested in selling to, anything that can identify the seller. The intention of this method is to make sure the seller you are purchasing from indeed does own the shoes. Obviously, anyone on the internet can claim they own something, but this is a more concrete way of knowing whether they do or not. It's a simple confirmation that is just an additional tool to keep from being scammed.
Pay through an invoice
Instead of sending a gifted payment, an invoice payment is much safer for you. In addition to paying through invoice, you are receiving protections under PayPal. Assuming you don't get the right item, you get a fake item, you don't get your whole order, PayPal will be on the buyer's side since you paid through invoice. One other thing to consider is the fact that PayPal almost always sides with the buyer. That is, unless there is very good evidence against either the seller or the buyer that would change the final decision.
Check the seller's reputation
Something that should be obvious from the start is to check and make sure the seller is legit. If you're on Twitter, you can check the seller's profile and see if they have a pinned 'legit check' tweet where users who did business with that account can post their results. If you're on eBay you can check the seller's feedback rating and comments. You want to make sure none of the comments talk about receiving fake shoes, or the wrong shoes. If you're on Instagram...wait...you really should just avoid Instagram as a marketplace altogether. It honestly seems as though there are more scammers over there than eBay, Twitter and other platforms combined.
If you can't confirm the seller's reputation, that's not horrible. You can still pay through an invoice and be protected under PayPal. The issue comes when purchasing with gift to an unverified seller. That's when things can get sticky for you, and you end up being scammed.
If you gift, pay with a credit card and not your balance
I know some of you have a few dollars just burning a hole in your PayPal balance. You want to spend it on something new and shiny, but paying with balance isn't the safest for you, here is why. If you pay with a balance, you can't chargeback against a fraudulent order. You're just kind of stuck. But, if you pay with an attached credit or debit card, you can contact your bank and proceed with what is called a chargeback. It's basically an investigation done by your bank on the transaction. Often times it results in the buyer being protected. This is the last case/worst case scenario in a situation, assuming you can't work things out with the seller.
One tip for this. If you have an existing PayPal balance, you can't send money to someone just from a credit card. PayPal will automatically pull from your balance first. So, to only use your credit card on a shady purchase you will want to transfer your PayPal balance into your attached bank account. Then you can be fully covered by both PayPal if you don't give, and your credit card company or bank.
Double check the invoice
Awesome, your seller agreed to send you an invoice for your shoes. Great, it's lower than market value. But, did you read the terms and conditions they typed out? Are you sure they wrote down the correct shoes? The correct size? If there was an issue, PayPal would look at the invoice first. Did the seller ever say the shoes were 100% authentic? Oh, the seller forgot to include that, looks like you aren't protected if you thought you were getting 100% authentic shoes. This is why I want you to double check the invoice, make sure everything checks out. If it doesn't look right, demand the seller changes the invoice. It takes a few seconds and if the seller isn't willing, that's a huge red flag.
Get accurate pictures from the seller to legit check
One thing that you surely want to do is make sure the shoes you are getting are legit. Have the seller take pictures of as many angles of the shoes as possible. The box, under the tongue, the sole, a reciept. Every angle is crucial. In case you can't legit check a pair of shoes yourself, there are plenty of people who can. Feel free to make a post or a tweet and try to get second opinions on the purchase you are about to make. If the majority of people say they are real, then you should be good to go.
When you get the shoes in-hand, you can even go the extra mile and take them into a local sneaker shop. If it's a popular shop, they usually don't mind checking over the shoes, or comparing them with what they have.
Avoid Square Cash, Venmo, and other digital wallets
Sure, you can use any of these digital services to send money, but you're not protected. It's similar to sending gift through PayPal. There is no tie to the product, the seller and you. They can take the money and run without any repercussions. Keep these methods for people you know personally or trust. If a seller asks for payment through any of these methods, you should double check if they are legit. If there is little to no history of them, I would say move on. It's a buyer's market. There are plenty of sellers in the sea.
While I've got your attention, you may be interested in some of my other work! You can browse through the rest of my free content here. And then if you're looking for more you I highly recommend considering The Sneaker Bible as the most comprehensive guide to assist you along your journey as a reseller.