Credit: Vicky Leta / Mashable

Have you noticed your TikTok For You Page is flooded with product advertisements? You’re not alone.

As TikTok introduced its social commerce initiative called TikTok Shop, the platform has delved further into becoming a hub for content and shopping, impacting users along the way.


China’s live streaming factories are bleak. Now TikTok wants to open one in the U.S.

This transition has been in progress for some time. Back in 2022, TikTok hinted at a QVC-style live shopping feature, enabling viewers to purchase items directly from live streams. This concept expanded on the existing presence of network marketers and dropshippers leveraging TikTok for advertising their products and using TikTok Live for sales.

By July 2023, TikTok was reportedly planning to integrate an in-app shopping experience for products made in China, handled entirely by TikTok, rather than small businesses.

Despite TikTok Shop’s stringent shopping policies, sellers on the platform have raised several legal concerns, including copyright violations, illegal or potentially harmful products, and fraudulent activities. Additionally, many are accused of compelling popular creators to showcase their stores in video content.

Despite the controversies, TikTok Shop continues to grow. The intertwining of social commerce with viral trends, memes, and music has resulted in significant sales through TikTok Shop, with reports indicating that users spent $363 million in the U.S. in 2023.

Some users have started resisting the abundance of videos featuring TikTok Shop links, affiliate tags, and “eligible for commission” labels. These labels are used to indicate when a product discussed or recommended by a TikTok creator can be directly purchased within the app.

However, efforts like de-influencing or anti-haul movements have not completely addressed the issue of consumers falling prey to fraudulent activities on TikTok.

If we can’t eliminate the challenges posed by social commerce entirely, we can at least equip ourselves with knowledge to combat scams. Before taking advantage of tempting deals on TikTok Shop, consider these helpful tips.

Research the Seller

Even before the official launch of TikTok Shop, consumer advocacy groups cautioned users about potential scams. A blog post from the Better Business Bureau in 2022 highlighted an increase in fraudulent activities, such as cryptocurrency scams and discount code schemes, emerging on the platform.

Companies specializing in digital verification have advised users to exercise caution while browsing TikTok. Recommendations from, a QR code service provider, emphasize that many products showcased on TikTok are actually sold by independent sellers like Depop and eBay, demanding additional scrutiny.

Actions to Take:

  • Verify if the seller has a verified checkmark.

  • Visit the seller or brand’s official website to authenticate products seen on TikTok Shop and ensure they have a presence outside TikTok. (Also, learn how to identify a fake website.)

  • Avoid purchasing from sellers lacking transparent contact information for their business.

  • Look for past complaints of malpractices. Simply searching the company name with keywords like “complaint” or “scam” may yield valuable information.

Research the Product

To steer clear of falling victim to seller traps, shoppers should scrutinize products themselves well before needing to resort to customer support.

Remember: If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Actions to Take:

  • Carefully review product descriptions, much like you would scrutinize phishing emails or other text-based scams.

  • Pay attention to descriptive terms like “refurbished,” “vintage,” or “close-out,” which could indicate pre-owned or defective items.

  • Opt for well-known brand products directly from the manufacturer or endorsed retailers.

  • Read customer reviews critically and be cautious of sponsored content, including promoted videos from your favorite creators.

If you decide to make a purchase, the Better Business Bureau recommends using a credit card over a debit card for all transactions. This makes it easier to dispute unauthorized charges and reclaim your funds if necessary.

Educate Yourself about Your Rights and Take Prompt Action

An online purchase establishes an agreement between the buyer and the seller, subject to various terms that consumers should carefully review. On TikTok, these terms encompass both the shop or seller’s policies and TikTok’s protective measures.

Actions to Take:

  • Familiarize yourself with TikTok Shop’s policies.

  • Understand the seller’s cancellation and refund policies.

  • Initiate swift action if you suspect fraud or if the purchased product is faulty.

TikTok has specific guidelines for handling post-sale disputes, outlined in the TikTok Shop Academy. The updated Order Cancellation, Return, and Refund Guidelines state that customers have six days after a package is labeled “delivered” to request a return or refund.

If an order is marked as “shipped” but exceeds 48 hours past the estimated delivery date, buyers can request a refund directly through TikTok. Sellers are obligated to address all cancellation and refund requests within 48 hours.

In cases where a TikTok Shop repeatedly swindles buyers, consider filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau directly or via its scam tracker.

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Social Good

Chase sits in front of a green framed window, wearing a cheetah print shirt and looking to her right. On the window's glass pane reads "Ricas's Tostadas" in red lettering.

Chase DiBenedetto
Social Good Reporter

Chase joined Mashable’s Social Good team in 2020, covering online stories about digital activism, climate justice, accessibility, and media representation. Her work also touches on how these conversations manifest in politics, popular culture, and fandom. Sometimes she’s very funny.


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