Refurbished gadgets can seem appealing when you look at their price tag. At a lower price than their brand-new counterparts, these devices typically have been donated or returned by a previous owner.
With e-waste making up more than 70% of the toxic waste found in landfills, opting for refurbished tech can keep some of that waste on the market and out of the ground. But, as the saying goes, no good deed goes unpunished, and there are certainly some risks that come with seeking out refurbished tech.
Ideally, refurbished gadgets will work just as well, though that can be difficult to determine just by looking. The item could be heavily damaged on its interior or was never refurbished properly.
Even beyond the risk of the gadget not working properly, it can be a stolen item, which can cause future legal hassles. So it’s prudent to look for potential warning signs when buying a refurbished gadget, to help separate the scams from the legitimate deals.
1. Verify the Seller’s Reputation
When looking for refurbished gadget warning signs, consider the person selling you the item. Gauge the seller’s reputation by asking for details on the gadget, specifically on the refurbishment process. If they are vague about the specific item or their dealings in general, you should be wary. A reputable dealer should have information on the refurbishment process as well as the previous owner.
Additionally, be wary of sellers who do not allow you to use the gadget for at least a few minutes prior to purchasing it. They may be concerned that the gadget will start malfunctioning due to a defect.
2. Be Wary of Odd Meeting Places
If a seller is asking to make the transaction in an alleyway or requesting iTunes gift cards or some other unconventional form of payment, it’s not worth pursuing.
Odd meeting places or payment requests can signal a seller with a questionable item, one for which they do not want to be held legally responsible. For something as universally known as gadgets, there’s no need to be discreet.
3. Avoid Western Union Requests
Western Union payment requests, in particular, are a favorite payment source for Chinese scammers.
If a seller only accepts Western Union instead of typical payment options, it’s likely he is a scammer. Western Union reminds consumers not to use their service for selling purposes.
4. See How Patient the Seller Is
It’s important to analyze the seller’s reaction if you mention you will need to think over the purchase.
If they’re aggressive or overly pushy, it can show an urge to get rid of a potentially stolen item or one that’s unlikely to sell quickly.
5. Do Not Use an Unsecured Site
Many websites also sell refurbished gadgets. In most cases, the safest method to purchase a refurbished gadget is to use the manufacturer’s site directly. For example, Lenovo and Dell have a section for refurbished products in their online stores.
Large, trusted companies have secure websites. You can tell by looking for HTTPS rather than HTTP at the beginning of their URL when you visit the site. If you’re purchasing refurbished tech from a non-manufacturer and their site simply begins with HTTP, you can be at risk of having your personal information stolen, including your credit card information.
Any trusted seller will be operating a secure website, especially in the tech sphere. Legitimate sellers in the tech niche will be very aware of security in this regard, as well as the other red flags for refurbished gadget scams.
Image by Negative Space