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How to Identify a Sketchy Third-Party Seller on Amazon

Purchasing from Amazon can sometimes feel like sending your credit card information into a void. Here are a few tricks to make sure that’s not the case.

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Third-party vendors account for a significant part of Amazon purchases — about 44% to be exact. Yet, it’s not Amazon’s responsibility to verify or test each third-party product and it’s not company policy to reimburse scam vendor victims who fail to file complaints. Instead, the job of vendor policing often falls to you, the purchaser, as you scan reviews to determine whether or not the product is legitimate. While some vendors are clearly offering knockoff or low-quality goods, other times the too-good-to-be-true low prices override these judgment calls. When making the decision to purchase through a third-party seller, there are a few fake vendor red flags to keep in mind.

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Too Good to Be True
In the case of Amazon vendors, if the price often seems too good to be true, it usually is. Vendors offering items, often technology, at staggeringly low prices should not be trusted. In such cases, the shipment will often be listed as traveling from overseas, with an expected delivery date of 6 weeks from order placement. Amazon pays vendors every two weeks, and scam sellers will go through at least three pay cycles before the original purchasers recognize that the purchase was inauthentic.

Product Reviews
Once a surefire way to ensure the quality of a product, the reviews section is now sometimes manipulated by sketchy sellers to boost the appearance of their product. However, smart shoppers can still use this section to determine the trustworthy vendors from the fake vendors. If all product reviews are from a few years ago, the account was likely hacked by a fake vendor. If all product reviews were posted recently within a short timespan or share similar language, they were likely paid for by a fake vendor. However, established and trustworthy third-party sellers will boast a range of reviews over a wider timeline.

Company Website
Another easy way to determine the legitimacy of a third-party Amazon vendor is to locate their company website. Scam sellers will rarely go to the length of building a fake website to accompany their listings and can be exposed through an easy Google search. Trustworthy vendors will offer an easily accessible website featuring the same or similar products offered through their Amazon listings.