Is AliExpress Safe? Protect yourself from a scam
January 17, 2024
If you’re an avid online shopper and enjoy a bargain, you’ve probably stumbled across AliExpress.
This marketplace has a seemingly endless array of product categories — like electronics, fashion, and homewares — with items at prices so affordable that they sometimes seem suspicious. Perhaps the inkling that AliExpress appears too good to be true has left you questioning, “Is AliExpress safe?”
Here’s everything you need to know about the safety of this online marketplace and how to know when you’re getting a good deal or potentially scammed.
What is AliExpress?
AliExpress, part of the Alibaba Group, is a Chinese e-commerce platform with a substantial global presence.
So, how does AliExpress work? Like Amazon and eBay, AliExpress allows third-party sellers to list and ship products through its marketplace. Shoppers can explore a wide range of merchandise and purchase items directly from these sellers.
There are two types of sellers on AliExpress: traditional sellers and drop shippers. Traditional sellers produce or source products and then sell them directly to customers, while drop shippers fulfill orders through external suppliers without stocking the products themselves.
AliExpress is especially attractive for drop shippers because, unlike many e-commerce platforms, it doesn't charge drop-shipping fees, allowing drop shippers to provide a variety of products without extra costs. More drop shippers mean a wider range of products, which benefits buyers, too.
Can you trust AliExpress?
AliExpress is a legitimate drop shipping business that takes measures to protect the shoppers who use it. While you could run into a dishonest seller, AliExpress doesn’t condone fraudulent behavior and does its best to keep the platform free of it. Here are three safety features AliExpress users can rely on:
1. Payment handling
One of the more nerve-wracking aspects of shopping online is giving your personal or financial information to a third party for processing. AliExpress handles all payment processing, not the sellers, so you can rest assured that your payment information won’t end up in the hands of a shady drop shipper.
That said, if you want to increase your safety when shopping on AliExpress (or anywhere else online), you can use a masked credit card from IronVest, which creates a unique, fake card number for purchases so that no one ever sees your actual digits.
2. Buyer protection
AliExpress offers money-back guarantees on any shipment that doesn’t arrive. They also promise items will arrive within a specific delivery time, so they consider any that fall outside that window late or “undelivered.”
The platform also allows you to open a dispute with a seller for unsatisfactory items (fake, damaged, or different than described) with the option to ask the seller for a refund or return the item. If you and the seller can’t resolve the issue independently, the AliExpress team will mediate.
AliExpress offers a proprietary payment processing service, AliPay (similar to PayPal or ShopPay), that prevents even AliExpress from seeing your real payment information. You can put money from your debit or credit on your AliPay account and use this payment option for your purchases on the site.
AliExpress red flags
AliExpress takes its consumers’ safety seriously, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be on the lookout for dishonest sellers and potential scams. Here are a few typical schemes on AliExpress to be aware of:
If you plan on purchasing an iPhone or luxury handbag, proceed with caution. Swindlers use this platform to sell counterfeit goods that look like the actual items but are fake. To ensure you’re getting a legitimate product, see if the product has a high rating, check reviews for previous buyers’ complaints, and do some research to confirm that the price is reasonable for the item's quality.
AliExpress scammers sometimes write difficult-to-understand listings aimed at confusing potential buyers. For example, dishonest sellers use click-bait photos of an item, like a nice handbag, and off an attractive price — but when you read the description carefully, you realize that the listing is actually for the purse’s protective bag, not the item in the photo.
Brushing is a scam in which AliExpress sellers create fake accounts using real people’s names and delivery information. The sellers then buy and ship products to those addresses and leave fake 5-star ratings on the shipped products.
If you’re the victim of a brushing scam, you’ll start receiving items you never ordered from AliExpress. Since the seller running the scam covers these purchases, you won’t be charged for them. You might view this as a positive thing since you’re receiving free items, but brushing is still a type of identity theft.
Having a stranger impersonate you to make purchases is a red flag that your personal information isn’t secure enough. To keep a tighter hold on your data, use masked credit cards, phone numbers, and emails from Ironvest. Even if a scammer does get your information, they won’t see your real information.
5 tips for avoiding AliExpress scams
Protecting yourself from scammers and dishonest sellers will help you enjoy a safer user experience when buying from AliExpress. Here are some tips to ensure you get the products you expect and don’t accidentally let your data fall into the wrong hands:
Read reviews: Check out what previous buyers have said about an item before you buy it. If others have complained about the quality or true nature of the product, look for another.
Read listings carefully: Don’t rely on item photos alone to make a purchasing decision. Review the listing description thoroughly to make sure you’re getting the specific item you want. If the list seems confusing or purposefully unclear, it’s best to move on.
Assume too-low prices are too good to be true: Do market research on other online retail sites before purchasing on AliExpress to ensure an item’s price is within the correct range. Some listings are clearly off, like an iPhone for $10, but it can be harder to tell with others, like a home security camera for $30. If your research shows other sites sell this same item at a similar rate, it’s probable the AliExpress listing is legitimate.
Protect your AliExpress account: Use safe login credentials that would be challenging for a cybercriminal to crack. Never use parts of your birthdate, name, or other identifying elements of your existence that someone else could guess. It’s also important to choose the safest payment method possible, like a processor (i.e., AliPay or PayPal) or a virtual credit card from IronVest.
Choose secure shipping methods: AliExpress scammers might try to recycle old tracking details to fake package delivery or ship something like a pack of crayons instead of the more expensive item you purchased. To avoid losing money from one of these scams, opt for shipping methods with transparent tracking information, and report any issues promptly to AliExpress customer service.
What data does AliExpress use?
Contact information (i.e., name and shipping address)
Purchase information (i.e., billing address and payment information)
Customer service history
Communications on the platform and with customer service
Buying and browsing history
Shop safer with IronVest
Shopping on AliExpress can be secure and enjoyable if you watch for phony items and scam sellers. While the platform’s safety measures are meant to ensure that you get the products you ordered as described and that no unauthorized third parties gain access to your personal information, you can also take measures to protect your online transactions.
Fortify your online shopping cybersecurity with additional protection from IronVest. Beyond virtual cards that mask your actual credit or debit digits, IronVest offers identity protection for all of your accounts. Use biometrically authenticated logins, and no one except you can access any of your information — including your AliExpress login.