AliExpress is safe to buy from if you're vigilant and use common sense. You are allowed to get refunds or exchanges if your order doesn't arrive on time, or is significantly different than advertised. However, it is still possible to get scammed on AliExpress, especially with low prices on brand-name objects.
AliExpress has taken several initiatives to protect you as a buyer. Our AliExpress Return Policy article will show you how to take advantage of the following protections:
If your order does not arrive within the latest estimated delivery date promised by your seller, you can request a full refund.
If your order arrives and one or more of your items are significantly different than they were advertised, you can either return the items for a full refund, or keep the items and request a partial refund.
If an item you have ordered is "Guaranteed Genuine" and it turns out to be counterfeit when you receive it, you can return it for a full refund... including the shipping costs!
Despite these protections being in place, however, there have been cases of buyers being defrauded by sellers on AliExpress. It is, after all, like many e-commerce websites: the actual sellers are third parties, and AliExpress is just the "middleman" that processes the deals. Fortunately, AliExpress has also provided buyers with several tips on how to avoid getting scammed while shopping on their website, which we will now pass along to you.
A basic thing that you can do to avoid sketchy sellers on AliExpress is to see what other people have said about products that they have ordered from a seller before you buy from that seller. On the whole, seller reviews should give you a somewhat reliable indication of whether or not you're buying from a retailer who's on the level.
If you see an item being sold on AliExpress at a price that seems too low to be reasonable, shop around to see what similar products are selling for on AliExpress or another e-commerce website. If the item's price is about 30% or more below what it's being sold for elsewhere, chances are good that either the item is counterfeit or the seller is trying to scam you.
This is especially important when you're looking to buy products from popular brand names, especially electronics manufacturers such as Apple, Samsung, Canon, or Nokia. These brands often institute international price controls, so even if their products are manufactured in China, it doesn't necessarily mean that Chinese distributors are allowed to sell their products at below-market prices. Again, in a situation like this, chances are that you're walking right into either a scam or a counterfeit deal.
While it's rare, a seller on AliExpress may contact you directly and ask you for your personal information. They may also take a more subtle approach and direct you to go to an external website, where you are to log in with your AliExpress account name and password. They will usually claim that this is necessary in order to process your transaction in some way (e.g. complete your payment or track your order).
In either case, don't do it. It is almost certainly an attempt at identity theft, either by getting you to willingly give up your personal information or by stealing it via a phony website (see our Phishing Scams article). You may also want to report the seller to AliExpress; see our How to Contact AliExpress Customer Service tutorial to learn how to file a complaint.
It's also a rare occurrence, but a seller may ask you to pay for an order or item directly through a money order or some other service outside of AliExpress. Besides the fact that (as we mentioned in the previous tip) this leaves you vulnerable to getting scammed or having your personal information stolen, it is a bad idea for two additional reasons.
Our Online Shopping Safety Tips article has more information, but basically, you are not only losing the protection and oversight of AliExpress in your transaction, but you are also likely helping the seller cheat AliExpress out of their sale commission. Again, this is the sort of seller behaviour that you should report to AliExpress.
AliExpress doesn't release your payment to the seller until you have confirmed that you have received your order or item from them. However, in rare cases, a seller may ask you to confirm delivery of your order before you receive it (e.g. because they need the money to pay off other expenses). This is a potential red flag that someone is attempting to scam you.
Not only should you ignore any request to pre-emptively confirm delivery of your item or order, but you should also check your item or order carefully when you receive it (if you even receive it at all) to make sure that it is not defective or counterfeit.
For other examples and safety tips, see these articles on AliExpress about common selling scams and common payment scams. We hope this information leads to a safe and satisfying shopping experience on AliExpress!
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