Often thought of as a mix between Instagram and eBay, the social shopping app Depop has become hugely popular in recent years with over 15 million users now using the platform to buy and sell their old clothes, or vintage items.
Targeted mainly at Gen Z shoppers, who make up 90% of its users, the company’s mission is to give them the chance to become entrepreneurs and disrupt the fashion industry. What’s more, at a time when the carbon footprint of fast fashion retailers is under increasing scrutiny, purchasing secondhand items and shopping sustainably on apps like Depop encourages young people to consider their carbon footprint while shopping. Nonetheless, as November ‘Black Friday’ deals begin to crop up – where sellers can choose to offer discounts on items of clothing – fraudsters appear to be targeting the site in the knowledge that many of its users are overly trusting of the internet and thus more easily exploited.
How to sell safely
Pay inside the app
The most common way fraudulent buyers target unsuspecting users on the app is to encourage sellers to not accept payment through the Depop app. As the site charges a 10% commission some buyers may ask to send money directly to a PayPal account. If the sale is made outside of Depop app’s payments system, the site is unable to trace it or assist with a reimbursement and you will have no protection from the site if something goes wrong. Scammers are often clever and can send convincing ‘confirmation of payment’ emails. To get protection on your money or goods you MUST therefore comply with the app’s terms and conditions.
Be careful about what you sell
Before selling your item make sure it is not on the list of prohibited and restricted items. Non-material good, such as concert tickets, as well as fake designer clothes are not covered by Depop’s protection system and therefore if caught listing these items, you risk having your account deleted. Counterfeit items must be refunded, and the buyer will not be required to return them, as the shipping of counterfeit goods is illegal.
It may seem an obvious point to make but make sure that your payment has completed before sending your item. You should be able to see this easily in your PayPal account. Shipping your item(s) before the funds have cleared will void your seller protection, so make sure the payment is under your ‘completed’ transactions rather than ‘pending’. When sending your items, it is also essential that you use tracked shipping, so that you can confirm where the package is, and you’re covered should anything happen.
How to buy safely
Look at the seller’s profile
Before making a purchase always check the seller’s reviews. This is a great way to see the track record of a seller, if other people have had problems with slow delivery times or items that weren’t as described it is likely that they will have posted as a note as a warning to others. Another thing to be cautious of is when a seller only has one picture of the item. To resolve this, it may also be worth asking if they can send you a photo of them holding it so you can be sure it exists.
Private sellers aren’t required by law to offer refunds, so before buying an item it’s important to check the Seller’s return policy. Do they offer refunds? If so, what is the refund procedure? You’ll get a full refund from Depop if the seller hasn’t sent your item and you paid using the BUY button in-app. Once you have asked the seller for an update If they don’t get back to you or the item has not been shipped after 7 days, you can report it in the app by going to your Profile > Settings > Need help? > Buying > My purchase > Select your issue there. Then PayPal will reach out to the seller, and if they’re unable to provide proof of shipping, you’ll be refunded in full.
When doing any form of shopping online it is important that you are wary about the potential risks and do the best you can to protect yourself. When making purchases on Depop, using a credit card is a good idea as not only are you protected by PayPal, but your credit card company also backs you up in case of fraud.
Pay attention to fakes. If you are not sure whether an item is genuine or not, ask the seller for more information, such as a certificate of authentication, and report it to Depop if you are still in doubt. They should then investigate if the item is genuine. Finally, if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.
While apps like Depop are a convenient way to buy goods online it is always better to err on the side of caution, familiarize yourself with the terms and conditions of the app and decide if the potential risks are worth it.
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