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AliExpress Is Cheap, But Is It Safe to Shop There?

The Chinese online retailer Alibaba is using AliExpress to expand its reach outside of Asia and challenge online giants like Amazon and eBay… but is it safe to shop there? Are there any security vulnerabilities you should know about? Is AliExpress secure? And are you more likely to be the victim of fraud or counterfeiting if you shop there? Here are the answers you need.

What Is AliExpress?

If you’re not familiar with AliExpress, here’s a quick primer: it’s a huge online retailer owned by The Alibaba Group, a multi-billion dollar corporation that started as a business-to-business buying and selling portal. It has since expanded to business-to-consumer, consumer-to-consumer, cloud computing, and payment services, as well.

To give you an idea of just how big Alibaba is, they reported over $14 billion in sales on Singles’ Day, 11 November, 2015.

AliExpress-homepage

AliExpress is Alibaba’s online marketplace aimed primarily at international buyers. It allows small businesses in China to sell to customers all over the world, and, just like Amazon, you can find just about anything there. It might be more accurate to compare AliExpress to eBay, though, as sellers are independent; it simply serves as a host for other businesses to sell to consumers.

Why Is AliExpress So Cheap?

If you browse some of the products on AliExpress, you’ll probably notice right away that many of the prices are really low and wonder why. There are two different distinct possibilities, both of which you’ll find in abundance on the site.

quinny-moodd-xtra-genuine-cart-2-in-1-high-landscape-baby-stroller-sleeping-basket-set-can-sit-and-lie-can-be-two-way-trolley

Quinny Moodd Xtra Genuine Cart 2 In 1 High Landscape Baby Stroller Sleeping Basket Set Can Sit and Lie Can Be Two-way trolley US $1599.00 US $1151.28 +detail
quinny-moodd-xtra-high-landscape-baby-stroller-sleeping-basket-set-two-way-implementation

Quinny Moodd Xtra High Landscape Baby Stroller Sleeping Basket Set Two-way Implementation US $1586.00 US $1348.10 +detail
original-quinny-baby-stroller-quinny-moodd-baby-can-sit-and-lie-high-landscape-baby-stroller-light-folding-trolley

Original Quinny Baby Stroller Quinny Moodd baby Can Sit And Lie High Landscape Baby Stroller Light Folding trolley US $1299.00 US $1104.15 +detail
2017-hot-sell-baby-and-mommy-bike-trolley-3-wheel-baby-boy-girls-pushchair-strollers-kids-foldable-strollers-2-in-1-prams-blue

2017 Hot Sell Baby and Mommy Bike Trolley 3 wheel Baby Boy Girls Pushchair Strollers Kids Foldable Strollers 2 in 1 Prams blue** US $1287.87 US $643.94 +detail
high-quality-twins-baby-stroller-shockproof-sunshade-carriage-lying-mutiple-pushchairs-folding-pram-aluminum-alloy-frame

High Quality Twins Baby Stroller Shockproof Sunshade Carriage Lying Mutiple Pushchairs Folding Pram Aluminum alloy Frame  US $1284.68 US $835.04 +detail

rpi-starter-AliExpress

First, there’s the possibility that you’re buying directly from a manufacturer, which reduces the cost of selling to you. Costs for production in China, in many cases, are quite a bit lower than they are in other countries, and the lax enforcement of intellectual property laws may also contribute. A lot of electronics have fantastic prices on AliExpress, because they’re made in China and you can buy them direct.

rpi-starter-amazon

The second possibility that an item is extremely cheap is that its either counterfeit or fraudulent. China is known as a hotbed of counterfeit production, and AliExpress is no exception. You can get all sorts of counterfeit items there, from electronics to clothing. Some sellers have also been known to defraud buyers by tricking them into paying before they receive an item and then disappearing with the money.

Of course, being able to tell the difference is crucial.

The Real Danger: Fraudsters

AliExpress and Alipay are solid systems when it comes to security. They’re not invincible, but nothing is — and their track record is a good one, so you can be confident that you’re not more likely to have any of your information stolen via one of these services than you are using a more familiar service like Amazon or eBay

However, there is one gaping hole in AliExpress: the merchant approval process. I can’t say what sort of process there is, as only merchants from mainland China are allowed to sell on the site, but there have been a lot of reports of scams on the site. So many, in fact, that the AliExpress Security Center has a section of fraud case studies and tips on how to avoid fraud when buying from their site.

fraud-case-study

quinny-buzz-xtra-stroller-can-be-seated-and-lying-with-high-landscape-folding-two-way

Quinny Buzz Xtra Stroller Can Be Seated and Lying with High Landscape Folding Two-way US $1258.00 US $1069.30 +detail
quinny-high-landscape-baby-stroller-can-sit-and-lie-carts-bidirectional-multifunctional-folding-umbrella-cart

Quinny High Landscape Baby Stroller Can Sit And Lie Carts Bidirectional Multifunctional Folding Umbrella Cart US $1206.45 US $1025.48 +detail
fashion-highview-twins-stroller-for-0-3-years-old-baby-sitting-lying-down-folding-pushchair-for-two-kids-2-seats-pram

Fashion Highview Twins Stroller for 0-3 Years Old Baby Sitting & Lying Down, Folding Pushchair for Two Kids, 2 Seats Pram US $1180.00 US $1180.00 +detail
aulon-baby-stroller-3-in-1-with-car-seat-high-landscope-folding-baby-carriage-for-child-from-prams-newborns-carrinho-de-bebe

AULON Baby Stroller 3 in 1 With Car Seat High Landscope Folding Baby Carriage For Child From Prams Newborns carrinho de bebe US $1153.78 US $576.89 +detail
quinny-buzz-classic-baby-stroller-can-sit-with-high-lying-landscape-shock-resistant-baby-pram-for-dolls

Quinny Buzz Classic Baby Stroller Can Sit with High Lying Landscape Shock Resistant Baby pram for dolls  US $1149.00 US $976.65 +detail

So how do you stay safe from fraudsters and scammers when shopping on AliExpress? The same way you do everywhere else. Here are four tips — if you follow them, you should have no problems.

1. If the price sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

This is how scammers get you; they reel you in with the promise of a once-in-a-lifetime deal. Check other sites to see what the going rate is for whatever you want to buy to make sure that the price on AliExpress isn’t far too low. If it is extremely low, you’re probably buying a counterfeit product or being set up for a scam.

2. Use Alipay’s Escrow service.

aliexpress-escrow

Escrow protects you in a number of ways. First, your credit card details aren’t given to the seller, so you don’t have to worry about them stealing your identity or going on a shopping spree with your card Despite what you may have heard, credit cards do get stolen, and credit card fraud happens, online and offline. But how does a thief get your card number, and how can you keep it safe? Read More . Second, the payment isn’t released to the seller until you've confirmed that you've received your purchase. So if you get scammed, you can just get an easy refund from AliExpress, and not have to go through the long, painful, and probably hopeless refund process with the seller.

3. Check the seller’s feedback before buying.

anker-store-feedback

If a seller has a bad reputation for defrauding buyers, there will likely be evidence in their feedback and reviews. Be wary of sellers with any mentions of not delivering or sending sub-par goods. In the time I’ve spent on AliExpress, I’ve seen mostly positive reviews, and I’ve never had a problem getting what I’ve ordered. But it’s still important to be on the lookout.

4. Check your order carefully when you receive it.

Because the escrow system allows you to withhold payment until you’ve received your order, you can confirm that you got what you paid for. Make sure everything is included, that it looks like what you ordered, and that, if you bought a brand-name item, it doesn’t look like a fake.

AliExpress: Safe If You’re Careful

When it comes down to it, the evidence says that shopping on AliExpress is indeed safe, as long as you’re careful, and this is the case with any other online marketplace. Some, like Amazon, offer you more protections than others, but if you’re willing to pay attention to what you’re doing to save a lot of money, AliExpress is a fantastic option.

noble-style-baby-stroller-2-in-1-pushchair-independent-sleeping-basket-bassinet-folding-bidirectional-baby-carriage

Noble Style Baby Stroller 2 in 1 ( Pushchair + Independent Sleeping Basket / Bassinet), Folding Bidirectional Baby Carriage US $1095.00 US $1095.00 +detail
quinny-2017-new-zapp-flex-multifunctional-portable-travel-cart-baby-stroller

Quinny 2017 New Zapp Flex Multifunctional Portable Travel Cart Baby Stroller US $1068.00 US $907.80 +detail
luxury-baby-prams-3-in-1-cart-baby-stroller-puchair-independent-bassinet-safety-car-seat

Luxury Baby Prams 3 in 1 Cart , Baby Stroller / Puchair + Independent Bassinet + Safety Car Seat US $1060.00 US $1060.00 +detail
fashion-high-view-3-wheel-baby-stroller-bi-direction-folding-pushchair-with-aluminum-alloy-frame-big-wheels-baby-pram

Fashion High-view 3-wheel Baby Stroller, Bi-direction & Folding Pushchair with Aluminum Alloy Frame, Big Wheels Baby Pram US $1049.00 US $1049.00 +detail
high-quality-baby-stroller-mother-kids-bike-strollers-newbore-three-wheel-pushchair-kids-travel-foldable-bicycle-tricycle

High Quality Baby Stroller Mother & Kids Bike Strollers Newbore Three Wheel Pushchair Kids Travel Foldable Bicycle Tricycle  US $1046.87 US $942.18 +detail


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