It’s always good to be skeptical about what you buy online. The internet is a great tool for businesses and homeowners alike to save money on tools and equipment, but it also makes it easy for scammers to trick people into buying counterfeit tools. Major manufacturers like Bosch, DeWalt, Makita and Milwaukee are falsely marketed to unsuspecting buyers, which is deceiving because these are reputable brands. However, these tools can be dangerous and poor quality due to lack of legitimate standard and safety testing. If what you’re looking for seems too good to be true, it probably is. Here are some useful tips that can help you analyze unfamiliar retailers and what to look out for.
It’s common for people to purchase tools and equipment from unfamiliar vendors, and it’s often because items are discontinued, clearanced, or specialty products that are difficult to find. We recommend buying from authorized sellers because it’s easy to check their validity by going to the manufacturer’s website. Brick and mortar stores are also a safe bet.
You can also check eBay, which provides the seller’s customer rating and secures your financial transactions and personal information. eBay is also a great place to compare pricing. If an unknown seller is selling at significantly lower prices compared to everyone else, it’s usually either a scam or stolen items.
Here are a few red flags to look out for on retailer websites and eBay:
- Check for social media links and valid contact information. Social media is an increasingly common tool for businesses to utilize for digital marketing today. Typically legitimate retailers and businesses will have established their social media presence and post at least once a month over a few years. It’s also important to look for an obvious phone number and/or email address on the webpage.
- Look for realistic discounts and pricing. If a tool typically costs $450 but is listed for $65, that is likely a scam.
- Google the store’s name and see how long they have been established as a business. Typically scammers will use a business front that has only been around for a few weeks to only a few days.
Craigslist is another great website for selling and buying tools and equipment locally, but it’s important to know how to spot a scam because they are quite commonplace on this specific platform.
Here are few red flags to look out for:
- Avoid deals that seem too good to be true. Before you commit to purchasing an item, do your research. Determine the retail value of the item that you are looking at.
- Look out for ads that display a sense of urgency. Often, urgency is used to coerce the buyer into making a purchase without allowing time to research or thinking about the deal in greater detail.
- Watch for deals where the seller asks for money upfront and be smart about how you pay. Craigslist is intended to be for local buying and selling. They should be relatively close to your geographical area and be willing to meet in person so that it gives you the opportunity to review the item before committing yourself to the purchase.
- If an ad offers an item for sale that doesn’t match the image, it’s likely a scam. You can easily confirm this with one quick Google search.
- Avoid ads with multiple misspellings or grammar errors. Although this is often a human error, if an ad is fraught with several errors, misuse of punctuation, and an overabundance of special characters (such as !, %, &, among others), it is likely to be a scam. Below is a good example of what this could look like:
Scams are all over the internet and it's important to keep your guard up. However, legitimate retailers and Craigslist ads are never perfect and may have a red flag or two, but if you use your best judgment and do your research the real scammers and fake websites are easy to notice.