Careful buying goods on Facebook, Instagram marketplaces: Dutch auth

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Take extra care when buying something on social media marketplaces, the Dutch authority on consumers and markets warns in a campaign launched on Thursday. According to the ACM, people often order items via ads on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram without making sure that the seller is reliable, and therefore regularly lose money.

Advertisements on social media platforms are specifically aimed on users' preferences, ACM director Bernadette van Buchem explained to broadcaster NOS. And Facebook and Instagram users are mostly young people, who are already more willing to shop without checking a seller's reliability. The threshold for online purchases is therefore exceptionally low for social media users.

"Young people are a willing target group. A purchase can be made with a few clicks and they are not as alert to what can go wrong", Van Buchem said to the broadcaster. "Sometimes they pay dozens or hundreds of euros to companies they do not know."

Seller information is often very limited in social media advertisements. Sometimes the ads include nothing about shipping, contact details, or how to return an item, despite this being required by Dutch law. The ACM does not have exact figures on how much is bought through social media or how many people experience problems with it, but does consider this a rising trend. 

By informing consumers about the risks of buying from unreliable sellers, the ACM hopes to prevent problems. The authority with tips n how to check whether a company is reliable or not. These include checking the seller by googling for complaints and reviews, and checking the payment options - if you can only pay in advance, be extra careful.