Internet Security

5 Tips to Buy Safely on AliExpress and Avoid Frauds or Scams

Dan Price Updated 07-02-2020

It’s not always easy to stay safe while you’re shopping online. For every legitimate, reputable site, hundreds want to take your money and run for the hills, never to be seen or heard from again.


If you want to stay safe, it’s important to research the site you’re making your purchases on. Take AliExpress, for example. How does it protect buyers? Is it easy to avoid scams? How does the site handle disputes and refunds?

So, let’s dive into the world of AliExpress and answer some of those questions.

What Is AliExpress?

AliExpress is part of the Alibaba Group. The group is a Chinese eCommerce company that offers a variety of retail services to businesses and consumers around the world. In April 2016, it overtook Walmart to become the largest retailer in the world.

Alibaba launched its AliExpress subdivision in 2010. It’s an online-only company that sells mainly Chinese products. It functions more like eBay than Amazon; it’s a host platform that lets third-party companies sell their wares. It doesn’t sell products itself.

AliExpress is the most popular e-commerce site in Russia and is also widely used throughout Latin America.


1. Buying From AliExpress: Buyer Protections

aliexpress protection for buyers

Buying online comes with inherent risks. Unlike doing your shopping in a physical store, you can’t see the item prior to purchase.

This removes a significant part of the buying process. You can’t feel a product to test for build quality or check an electronic item to make sure all the features work as described.

If you’re buying a well-known brand, you can read online reviews or even head to shop to negate the problem.


But is AliExpress safe to use for purchases? After all, many of the cheap white-label Chinese products on AliExpress are not available in stores; you’re on your own. Normally, you will be making your decision solely based on the description and a few photos. It’s vital, therefore, that the site has a robust buyer protection policy.

Luckily, it does. The company offers two important guarantees:

  1. A full refund if you don’t receive your order: if the item does not show up, or even if it does not arrive within the timescale the seller specifies, you can apply for a full refund. You will get a full refund within 15 days.
  2. A full or partial refund if the item is not as described: if your purchase differs significantly from what you expected, you have two options. You can either return the item for a full refund or keep the item and receive a partial refund.

2. Resolving Disputes

aliexpress dispute process

Unfortunately, as with other eCommerce sites, getting a refund for a missing, defective, or incorrect item is not as simple as merely clicking a “Refund” button. There’s an entire dispute process you need to work through.


On AliExpress, the dispute process involves three steps:

First, you need to contact the seller and raise your issue directly with them. If you’re raising a dispute either before the order has been completed, or more than 15 days after completion, this is the only option open to you.

If you’re still in the pre-completion stage and the seller refuses to cooperate, you have to wait until the order is closed and raise the issue with AliExpress. Sadly, if you’re beyond the 15-day mark and the seller refuses to cooperate, you’re out of options.

Second, if you’re within the 15-day period and you’re not happy with the seller’s response, you can open a dispute ticket. This makes the process formal.


Third, if you’re unhappy with the formal discussions, you can escalate the issue to AliExpress. It will then act as a mediator between you and the seller to reach a resolution.

3. Finding a Reputable Seller: The Feedback Page

aliexpress seller feedback

The easiest way to avoid using the refund and dispute channels is to find a reputable seller. It makes ordering from AliExpress much less worrisome. If thousands of satisfied customers have used the seller in the past, you’re far less likely to run into problems.

The most obvious way to check a seller is to look at their history. On any seller’s page, click the Feedback tab for a complete breakdown. To safely buy cheap tech from Chinese sites Why You Should Buy Your Tech From China (And How to Do It Safely) There are some good reasons to buy tech products and gadgets from China instead of, say, Amazon. Here's what you need to know. Read More , checking seller feedback is essential.

Each seller has a Positive Feedback percentage and Feedback Score. The Feedback Score is the sum of all ratings, converted into points. Four- and five-star ratings are worth one point, three stars are worth zero, and one- and two-star ratings deduct one point.

Further down the page, you can see star ratings sub-divided into Item as Described, Communication, and Shipping Speed. For each sub-category, you can see whether the seller in question is above or below the site average.

Lastly, at the bottom of the page, you’ll see a historical look at their scores along with buyer comments.

4. Check Seller Guarantees

aliexpress seller guarantees

Sellers can also offer buyers specific safeguards. As a general rule, the more guarantees provided, the more confident you can be in your purchase. Again, it helps to make AliExpress a more reliable store.

Sellers offer guarantees on a per-item basis. Just because they offer lots of assurances on one product doesn’t mean the same assurances are replicated across their entire catalog. Make sure you do thorough research before you commit.

There are four different guarantees sellers can offer:

  1. On-Time Delivery. The seller promises to provide a full refund if your purchase does not arrive by a pre-agreed time.
  2. Returns and Refund. The seller promises to offer a full refund if the product is not as described
  3. Domestic Returns. The seller has a warehouse in your country. You can send returns to it without needing to worry about shipping costs or customs fees.
  4. Guaranteed Genuine. If you’re buying a big-ticket electronic item, this is one to look out for. It means the item has been verified as genuine by AliExpress itself.

To see which guarantees are provided for an individual item, check for the Buyer Protection information in the Quick Info part of the product page, or click the Seller Guarantees tab below the product image.

5. Be a Smart Shopper to Avoid Fraud

No matter how much security the site puts in place, you always need to take some responsibility for your own actions.

AliExpress offers some helpful hints to make sure you avoid fraudulent sales. Most of them are common sense, but it’s still prudent to recap some of them:

  • If the price is too good to be true, it probably is. Sorry, but you’re not going to get the latest iPhone for $10. You’re probably buying an iPhone keyring instead. Check the small print.
  • Never send money to a seller’s bank account. If a seller wants you to send money directly to them rather than through AliExpress, do not proceed. Sending money outside of AliExpress means the site will not cover you under its buyer protection policies.
  • Do not confirm delivery before receiving the order. Never say you’ve received an item before it’s in your possession and you’ve thoroughly checked it for problems.

You should also make yourself aware of something called formjacking, anytime you’re shopping online. Check out exactly what formjacking is and how to avoid it What Is Formjacking and How Can You Avoid It? The big online security risk of 2019 looks like it could be formjacking. Here's how hackers steal your data from website forms. Read More if you’d like to learn more.

AliExpress Is Safe

Chinese products often have an unfair reputation for being cheap and poor quality. It’s not true. Many of the products on AliExpress are well made and available for a fraction of the cost of what you would pay for an equivalent item in the shops of North America or Europe.

If you’re a smart shopper, it is safe to shop on AliExpress Is AliExpress Legit and Safe to Buy From? What is Aliexpress? Is it safe to shop on? Are there any security vulnerabilities? Our Aliexpress review finds out if it's legit. Read More . The site is no more dangerous than buying something off Amazon or eBay 10 Tips to Shop on eBay Like a Boss These 10 eBay tips will help you optimize your searching and bidding to save you a lot of money on the items you're looking for. Read More .

Related topics: AliExpress, Online Shopping, Scams.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. zeke romero
    May 16, 2020 at 10:36 am

    Hello Dan, I wanted to express appreciation for how informative and well-written this article was. Thank you!

  2. bob
    April 14, 2020 at 2:06 pm

    I have been looking into aliexpress reviews and personally find no reason to shop there. Even the optimistic customers admit to being burned now and then.
    Why any one would use this site after reading the thousands of negative reviews is mindbogling.
    One thing I noticed in these comments, is that most of the good comments end in 2017, starting in 2018 they turn to crap.
    As for the writer of the above article, he should verify his info by actually going through the order process, and give readers an accurate account, not just a fluff piece.

  3. Kevin
    February 22, 2020 at 4:15 pm

    Scam site, ordered specific item and item recieved was not that item. Customer service was of no help at all. Then they stopped responding.

  4. CEZAR P.
    February 13, 2020 at 11:07 pm

    I tried AliExpress, and I sincerely regret it ....!
    I deleted my account after trying it again a few years difference, and the conclusion is crystal clear:
    AliExpress (like any Chinese), is FULLY 100% CROOKED!
    DO NOT trust any, but Chinese, they will full you!

  5. terry
    February 10, 2020 at 9:22 am

    i'd treat the advice on checking feedback with a lorry load of salt, not a pinch. i checked out a half dozen items, all smartphones, on a particular well rated shop and noticed a lot of Russain buyers, so i checked out each one to see their comments on the phones they had "bought". you can see all of an individuals reviews by clicking the link on their ID, and all the ones i checked out had bought a few dozen phones, not in bulk, but different makes, all around the same date, and all had a five star rating . it seemed pretty obvious that sombody in China had a designated task of bumping up the averages by posting fake reviews.
    i've had stuff from Express, and the mother shop, Baba, and dealt only with the sellers who have been selling for years, and have huges numbers of sales as opposed to small stores who have been open 6 months and only sold a dozen items. the main problem is delivery times, if you expect it tomorrow then shop locally, i think my record is 3 weeks to mainland europe , and the worst 2 months.

  6. De
    January 1, 2020 at 10:35 am

    Nope. They ask for impossible evidence in a dispute and then terminated my account for asking for refunds (mostly because sellers false-ship or use tracking numbers of other buyers) thus not sending me anything. Many ways a seller can abuse their power. They can even rate you so other sellers can see but we can't, and guess what? Even if a seller is at fault they'll rate u 1. Oh, and NEVER accept PayPal for a refund.

  7. Ann Trent
    November 6, 2019 at 8:41 pm

    I have bought several things from Aliexpress and for the most part I was happy. There was one order that wasnt the rightr color Lepin (thier version of Lego) that I got. I didnt get a refund but I did get a credit for the amount I spent. I was going to spend all my money in shipping it back. So this made more sense to me. But I do agree you need to read EVERYTHING VERY CLOSELY!. They can be very deceptive. I've only ordered Lepin & from 2-3 companies. You can get a good deal but if you dont pay attention you will get ripped off.

  8. Tami O
    October 6, 2019 at 8:06 am

    AliExpress is terrible and I advise everyone to avoid buying from them at all costs. I ordered a couple items in August and it is now October, my items have still not arrived. I am now trying to get a refund and am being told that the items are in transit. Transit my ass! I’m never buying from this foreign company again. Lack of customer service, lack of any guarantees that you will receive your orders and complete disregard of customers’ complaints. NEVER ORDER FROM ALIEXPRESS, EVER!!!!!!!!

    • Ann Trent
      November 6, 2019 at 8:43 pm

      It does take forever and the response isn't very good after the sale. But I was happy with the stuff once I FINALLY got it.

  9. gilgamish
    September 7, 2019 at 10:20 am

    this is my story with this company ( ZJCHAO Watch Store ) I made an order with this company on aliexpress 5 months ago and They never sent the goods and whenever I asked them to send it they says that they have already sent it and that I have to be patience and wait and at last they said that the carrier did not send the goods and they are sorry for that and when I asked them to return the amount they refused and they said that I choose another item so whenever I choose an item they say that it is not available now and I have to choose another one And so on . This is a sample of how Chinese companies deal and the solution is do not deal with these thieves ( ZJCHAO Watch Store)

  10. AM
    August 24, 2019 at 12:58 pm

    Seller requesting email to be able to refund partial money is this legit? I payed with cc.

    • De
      January 1, 2020 at 10:37 am

      You're question suggests that you should never buy online

  11. Adejoke Adeniran
    July 12, 2019 at 6:41 am

    I recently bought one item on Ali Express but they ended taking money for 12 items and added 12 items into my order lists. I immediately cancelled 11 items and called barclaycard to stop paying for those but unfortunately they've released the money.
    Barclaycard opened a dispute with them and also called me to let me know they are monitoring the transactions
    At the end Ali Express returned the money but they deducted around £2 each on every transaction which I'm not happy with. They actually deducted £3 on 2 transactions. I lost almost £25 to them.
    Barclaycard called me to let me know that the money is lost during the process of exchanging rate.
    Be ready for problems like this.

  12. Ff
    July 6, 2019 at 2:52 am

    I made an $11 order.the seller said they wanted. An extra $9 to send. When the time to send it.he sent fake DHL tracking number it was real but different buyer .it's hard to start dispute
    AliExpress sent me a form to dispute sky but item has no sky I sent Ali Express an email.lucky the buyer had let me use PayPal so I sent seller messages and. Fake DHL tracking and disputed it .the seller sent PayPal fake DHL.which showed it was delivered to a different address a day before it was shipped.paypal ruled in my still waiting for AliExpress to my dispute.i cant leave bad feedback for seller unless I click I recieved product. So I will not trust AliExpress as much

    I made another purchase from different seller.came ok quality was not great.items were missing packaging or ones with box's box's were damaged so if you wanted to resell tlyou could not all items arrived in good condition apart from packing but quality not great

  13. Felix Mendez
    June 28, 2019 at 1:41 am

    Is no sure but in AliExpress because they cancelled my order with any explanation and don't give my money $$back....stolen my $$$

  14. Maria Fitzpatrick
    June 12, 2019 at 8:19 am

    I bought three dresses claiming to be Self Portrait. They arrived looking nothing like they did in the photos on the website. They were not that cheap either. They were so badly made it was shocking. The return/refund process is very time consuming. I will not be buying from them again. Also their size L in most of their dresses is equivalent to a UK size 8-10

    • De
      January 1, 2020 at 10:39 am

      The size thing is your fault as Asian sizes are 2 sizes smaller than the rest of the world. Other than that, I feel you.

  15. Vanessa
    May 14, 2019 at 6:33 am

    I was buying from Ali Express for about 4 years. I kept my purchases down to under $30 for the most part and never had a problem with any items or sellers till Feb I and the 2019. Ok so I placed an order for a flat iron and things went as usual. The order was shipped and a tracking number was available. I start tracking after 2 weeks time. So I'm tracking the package and it's stating that the package isnt in the system. By March 1st I message the seller and they state that the package didnt leave China that it was held up in customs. The seller says that they will reship the item and if I pay for the shipping they will send it express. That made me laugh and I said no just ship it out standard. Ok so after 2 days I message the seller because the tracking number is still the one from the package that was stuck in customs and 2 days later I get a message back with the updated tracking number. This time I am able to see the progress of the package and it is in route. On April the 9th the package was now at my local post office awaiting delivery scan and it stayed that way for about a week. So I call the USPS and an investigation is opened to find out what's up with this package. Turns out that the seller put the wrong address on the label . So I start a dispute and the seller enters evidence and that is the information from the first package that I now believe was never sent out at all. So I message the dispute team to make them aware of that and the next day the seller entered into evidence a shipping label with my correct address which was not real. I'm not sure how the label was created but I trust that what the USPS sent to me was legit. It was like pulling teeth but I managed to get the USPS to email me the print out information minus the sensitive shipping companies data and it was right there with the wrong address. May 7th Ali Express and the escalated dispute team was in favor of the seller stating that I didn't provide the with enough information which is a crock of ck&&6. So to sum it all up Seller get the money and the goods that are enroute back to China and Ali Express gets the commission or what ever monies they make for letting sellers sell through them which I believe at this point happens more often then not. Fortunately this seller was PayPal enabled and I made the purchase through PayPal opened a dispute through them and in 2 days with the same evidence presented to Ali Express was given a full refund. This experience and the time the back and forth with Ali Express customer service and dispute team which were useless I will no longer place any orders through Ali Express. It's not just my $20 in the big picture if you multiply that with any large number and they too have this experience it could be profitable what can be better than selling an item sending it purposely to the wrong address knowing the USPS is going to send it back get it back and get to keep the buyers money. It's a scam and Ali Express is not only aware but enables these sellers to use unethical business pravtice. All I can say is buyer beware use PayPal only and know they are going to get ya one of these days!

    • De
      January 1, 2020 at 10:42 am

      I'll open a PayPal acc rn!!! I already lost over $35 because of their unfair judgement.

  16. Shari
    May 6, 2019 at 11:00 am

    I've been buying from Ali Express for several months and have mostly been very satisfied. A sweater that was much smaller than advertised was disputed and the price promptly refunded to my credit card. I mostly buy clothes, always check the size charts and customer reviews. Have gotten some beautiful items for wonderfully cheap prices. When buying Asian clothes always take 2 sizes larger than your American size. Many vendors accept Paypal but not Paypal credit.

  17. Dineo Sekgobela
    April 11, 2019 at 6:53 pm

    Hi. I bought six items that were later sent to review.
    I have a also bouth items that some i received while others are still on the way, so far i have received 6 items, waiting for 8 amd 6 is under review.

    I tried contactong tje sellers several times but no response
    I dont understand why my orders are put under review. And their orders are complete but ive not received them

  18. Linda Teiefitu
    March 7, 2019 at 5:00 pm

    I have bought many things through Aliexpress from my computer. But I would like to go through my tablette or phone but I don't see the lock sign on the left side above.I was afraid it would not be safe.

  19. I have a name
    January 7, 2019 at 10:13 pm

    AVOID Alibaba and the 40 robbers, one being Aliexpress, at all cost! It worked for a while. Some years to be accurate and I bought LOTS of stuff there. But since a few weeks I'm getting the "return product and pay shipping on your own" result if I open a dispute because item not as described or faulty. If I try to contact customer support I get connected to a robot with the brain size of one cell. Really, Ali? Are there no other sites to buy from? I'll rather spend a buck more and have better buyer protection! We all know Chins items are cheap knockoffs and have cheap or no quality control. If buyer protection is good, I can disregard some issues. But now with literally NO PROTECTION or PROTECTION BASED ON THEIR OWN SCAMMING STANDARDS in China, good riddance, Aliwhatever!

  20. Brooke G
    December 10, 2018 at 7:09 pm

    DO NOT USE AliExpress. They will not pay for return shipping even if the product received is not as described or defective. Shipping for me for a $120 product would be $65. It is not worth it. I ordered from Morning Star Lighting Store.

  21. Chris Koumoullos
    July 28, 2018 at 5:29 pm

    I got ripped off bought reading glasses from Lana Wang and got wrong lenses. Lost my money . They will never back up buyer only sellers. Their product satisfaction is a scam. Closed my account. Ebay and amazon only online sellers that will consider a dispute honestly.

  22. Tim
    May 26, 2018 at 7:50 am

    Don't buy anything substantial from AliExpress! I ordered a $245 USD mandolin that arrived with blems and defects. Returned for what they call Full Refund, only to discover that the Seller claimed I had damaged the neck. Went through their full Dispute process with PROOF that I sent in same condition as I received but AliExpress sided with the Seller and only offered partial refund. The worst part is, that during the "escalated" portion of the dispute, there's no confirmation of the evidence you've submitted and there's no viewing of what the Seller has submitted. So it could be anything! Now, after having spent considerable cash on return shipping -- and being penalized $$ for some supposed "damage" -- I still have NO IDEA what damage they're talking about!! The mandolin arrived, I saw it was defective, repacked it and sent it back in the same packaging, with extra padding. And even after repeated requests to get AliExpress to show me the Seller's "evidence" of the cracked neck, still no response. Their so-called "Buyer Protection" is a complete joke, BEWARE on any large ticket items. In the end, it actually COST me to buy a crap product that had to be returned. The smaller stuff is mostly okay to buy, but I will not trust AliExpress again...

    • Annelie
      November 3, 2018 at 7:33 am

      I completely agree. If you get exactly the thing you ordered and it works, AliExpress is fine, but do NOT expect to get the right thing, if anything goes wrong. Not even if AliExpress, the platform, says you will.
      In the end, after a lot of messages to the different "shops", they either say, that they sent a new article or they claim you are too late to get a refund and the "big" AliExpress stops answering your emails.
      I have bought a lot and most of the things are OK, but do NOT trust their protection policy, as it doesn't work at all. You do NOT gete a refund or a new article!

  23. Andreas Trian
    February 3, 2018 at 9:42 am

    I was buying lots of items from alie express. Cheap but most of them worked fine. Some did not work but so cheap that couldn't bother sending them back. Just bought another. Recently i bought 2 phones for 149 usd each. They say "full refund if you don't receive and partial if not up to standard. Bluetooth was not working properly and created a dispute. After one month email exchanges and after i sent them a video of Bluetooth getting disconnected, alie express asked for more proof and more video. 1 Month studying the video i sent them was not enough. I did not send any more as i realised i wasn't going to get anything. I forgot to mention the partial refund. 7 usd increased to 15 osd! I repeatedly asked for an address to send it back but never provided one. All in all good to buy cheap things but disappointing when you buy a bit more expensive things. I have copied all messages just in case they bother to answer and try to prove me wrong.

    • Annelie
      November 3, 2018 at 8:32 am

      The same happened to me! Do only buy cheap things!

  24. Frank
    July 17, 2017 at 12:01 pm

    I am from Brazil and often my items got lost in shipping, so I need to open a lot of disputes and because of that my account was TERMINATED by AliExpress. Take care. If you open too many (20+) disputes, your account will be terminated, even you being 100% correct and honest.

  25. jj
    July 15, 2017 at 8:48 pm

    I have bought 70 items through Alien express, and so far do have any issues. The items I have purchased go from electronics to first aid kits to Cloths. The only issue I have had is with some suppliers it took a long time to receive the item. Having said the the supplier kept in touch with me.
    At first I made some test purchase, just to see what would happen, I am happy and will continue to shop using Alien express.

    July 15, 2017 at 10:17 am

    Have been on AliExpress for more than an year now. Thoroughly satisfied with them. For couple of items that were lost in transit, seller immediately and gracefully refunded the amount... Best products and amazing range at very reasonable prices

  27. Lisa
    July 15, 2017 at 6:11 am

    I love shopping on AliExpress! I never buy clothing because the sizes are too small for North Americans! The products are usually "as described". Shipping is where I have complaints......I have had an item to show up 6 months after ordering, and I have had an item to track, that sat at the Canada Post sort station for 4 months....still waiting on that one. Otherwise, some of the sellers are great to deal with! Another complaint is that AliExpress no longer has a live chat available, which used to help if you couldn't get a seller to respond, or before you put in a dispute.

  28. Matthew
    July 15, 2017 at 6:09 am

    I've used AliExpress quite frequently myself and always been happy with the quality of the products and prices I've received. My one word of caution is that my credit card was compromised the last three times I made a purchase... Of possible use a prepaid credit card or another form of payment like PayPal

  29. Vanessa A. Pagán
    July 14, 2017 at 8:40 pm

    I have shopped a lot on AliExpress and have only had one serious problem with a set of dies that I never received yet the shop said it was delivered, so I lost my money. I have had a couple of other problems, but they were resolved quickly. I have been disappointed a few times because I didn't check the equivalent of cm/mm to inches, but that's my fault. I mostly have ordered scrapbooking/card making dies and lace. The dies I buy cost about USD $1.00-5.00 on the average and that is considerably less than name brand dies. I have been very satisfied with the products and do not consider them of inferior quality. I live in Utah, USA and deliveries have taken anywhere from 3-8 weeks.

  30. Mohamed
    July 14, 2017 at 8:03 pm

    I've been on Aliexpress for about 5 months. I've bought a lot of all types of goods and it's good. I've had 2 disputes with two sellers and gotten refunds. The delivery takes about 6 weeks to South Africa. Just sort by number of orders and read the feedback and most important the detailed product description. I put a limit of 500 zar on my credit card then deposit money into it if I buy anything. So in case of my credit card details getting out, I won't lose much

  31. Colin
    July 14, 2017 at 4:50 pm

    One the problems if you do not like what you received is the cost of shipping/mailing back. It can be as much or more than what you paid for the item.