CPA underscored that Instagram is considered a social media platform, not an e-commerce one, adding that they are weekly inundated with reports and complaints regarding fraud or procrastination related to purchasing from such accounts.
Most of the accounts on Instagram require users to transfer the money to a personal bank account, registered under the names of individuals inside or outside Saudi Arabia. This entails a dispute between individuals and not a commercial one, making the process of retrieving the money complicated as it does not fall within the ambit of trade laws.
CPA said that the accounts on Instagram do not meet the e-commerce requirements imposed by the Ministry of Commerce. Most notably, it lacks e-payment options and does not display the commercial registry and tax number.
Moreover, the absence of a clearly written policy for exchange and refund operations and a lack of affiliation with any registered establishment or companies in Saudi Arabia are also red flags.
The most Instagram-related complaints and reports monitored by CPA concern the purchase of clothes, abayas, e-games and recharge cards.
CPA urged consumers to verify the validity of the commercial register when purchasing from e-stores by inquiring from the Ministry of Commerce or through the inquiring service about an online store at the association. CPA offers a free service for all consumers in Saudi Arabia to ask about an e-store and check if the site is featured in the fraud data of CPA.
The possibility of fraud and the inability to recover money will be very high if the online store requests to transfer the purchase amount to a personal account inside or outside Saudi Arabia.
Complementary to this, if the store requests the customer to pay the amount via a WhatsApp link or other social media sites the possibility of fraud is high.