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How to Handle Buyer Violations and Fraud on Amazon
Stay on top of the latest e-commerce and marketplace trends.
Most people who shop on Amazon are good, honest people — but, unfortunately, there are a few bad apples out there who are looking to scam Amazon sellers out of money.
If you sell on Amazon, then you have likely encountered a few cases of buyer violations and fraud. The company does its best to limit these sorts of issues, but they do occur, so it is in your best interest to educate yourself and learn how to protect your business.
Reputation management, which includes handling buyer fraud, is an essential part of growing your Amazon business. Below, we go over all the various types of buyer fraud that you might face while selling on Amazon and the best ways to handle them if they do occur.
Types of Buyer Fraud
There are a number of different Amazon buyer scams out there, and it seems like fraudsters are constantly coming up with new tactics. Here are the most common ways buyers can scam sellers on Amazon:
1. Demanding Refunds Without Returning the Product
Some buyers will receive their product and then contact the seller to demand a refund, claiming there is an issue with the product. Many sellers simply provide a refund to avoid the hassle of dealing with a dispute.
2. Claiming They Did Not Receive Their Item
In this case, buyers claim they never received the item they purchased, even though they did. Some may claim the item was stolen during shipping or that the person who signed for it was not them. This results in a refund and the buyer keeps the product.
3. Falsely Claiming Products Are Not As Described
Some buyers will receive a product, use it for a short while, and then return it. They will simply say the item “wasn’t as described” to get free return shipping. This is especially common with clothes and, unfortunately, now that the product is used, it can no longer be sold as new.
4. Returning Different Items
With this scam, buyers will return an item to the seller that is different than the one they purchased. In many cases, they replace the new item with an old or broken one, or an object that has a similar weight as the new product so as to not be detected.
5. Only Partially Returning Items
This scam is similar to the last one. Sometimes people will purchase bulk items and then only return some of the items in the set. For example, they may purchase a Tupperware set, take the ones they like, and return the rest, claiming they returned all the items. A similar scam is to buy multiple items and only return one. They will claim they included all the items in one box when, in reality, they just returned one of the items and kept the rest.
6. Changing Their Address
This scam is a little different than the others. A fraudulent buyer purchases a product on Amazon with one address. Then, after the sale is complete, the buyer will contact the seller and claim they moved, asking them to ship the product to a new address. However, Amazon’s policy states that you must ship the product to the address provided. Whatever address you decide to ship it to, the seller can claim they never received it and ask for a refund.
These are just a few of the ways scammers can take advantage of sellers. Make sure to keep an eye on your orders and return claims and take note of anything that seems suspicious.
How to Handle Fraud
Falling victim to buyer fraud and violations can be costly and damaging to your seller reputation. However, there are several tactics you can employ to protect your business, as outlined below.
Refer to Amazon’s Return Policy
The vast majority of fraud you encounter will involve some sort of return. So, if you feel you are being scammed, then the first thing you should do is refer to Amazon’s return policy. If a buyer is trying to receive a refund that goes against Amazon’s policy, you can simply refer them to the company rules regarding returns to show them that you are in the right.
Defend Yourself Against a Buyer’s Claim
Unfortunately, buyers can go around you if they are not getting the refund they want and file a claim with Amazon. If a claim is filed against you, Amazon will contact you and you will have seven business days to provide the information they request. Make sure to be as detailed as possible and provide as much evidence as you can to make your case.
Unfortunately, Amazon is known to heavily favor buyers in these types of situations. This is why the best way to protect yourself against buyer scams is to take steps to prevent it from happening in the first place.
How to Prevent Buyer Fraud
Below are a few steps you can take to help prevent your business from falling victim to buyer fraud.
Use the Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) Program
Many scams involve fraudsters claiming that their item never arrived or that it was stolen during shipment. Because of this, sellers who use the Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM) program are at a much greater risk since they are responsible for shipping. With the FBA program, Amazon is responsible for shipping, which means you are not held accountable for any shipping issues.
Track Your Shipments
If you do decide to ship your own products, always make sure to track your shipments. This is an easy way to prevent scams. For example, if a buyer claims they did not receive their package, and your shipper says the package was delivered, you can simply show the buyer proof of delivery from the courier.
Familiarize Yourself with Amazon’s Policies
While Amazon does generally favor buyers, there are some policies in place to protect you, so it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with them so you are not taken advantage of. Knowing these policies beforehand can often protect you.
For example, you are not under any obligation to provide a refund until a product is returned. If someone is demanding a refund, then send them a prepaid shipping label, per Amazon’s policy. The buyer can either ship the product back to you and collect a refund or keep the item they purchased. By following Amazon’s policies, you will be less likely to get caught in a scam.
Do Not Let Buyer Scams Deter You from Selling on Amazon
Despite a few fraudsters out there who can cause trouble for sellers, starting an Amazon business is still a great way to earn some additional income. If you follow the advice above and keep an eye out for shady characters, you should be able to avoid many of the scams being used. Also, if you are thinking about selling on Amazon, you should definitely read more on what types of products you should sell on the platform to give yourself the best chance at success.
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