Ever wondered what it’s like to shop like a billionaire? According to blossoming online marketplace Temu, now you can. But is Temu safe? With its outrageous prices, gimmicky social media promotions, and mixed reviews, you might think it wise to dodge the ecommerce site. There are, however, great deals to be had on the platform (and plenty of eager customers if you’re a retailer), if you know how to vet sellers and avoid scams. Here’s what you need to know to shop safely on Temu.

What Is Temu?

Temu is an online marketplace known for its incredibly low prices and wide selection of products. The Temu website and shopping app feature over 25m items, including beauty products, household items, clothing, books, pet supplies, and electronics, which ship to consumers in 50 countries.

Temu homepage screenshot

Temu launched in Boston, Massachusetts in 2022 and has since exploded in popularity, thanks in part to its successful marketing strategy, gamified approach to shopping, and use of customer data to track trends.

Temu was the most downloaded iPhone app in the US in 2023 and boasted more than 47m downloads worldwide in January 2024. Almost a third of all small packages entering the US are either from Temu or competitor Shein.

The online retailer is owned by parent company PDD Holdings, a Chinese company that moved its headquarters to Ireland in 2023.

Why Is Temu So Cheap?

There are plenty of great deals on Temu. You can buy items like:

glasses on Temu

So what’s the catch? How do they keep prices so low?

  1. D2C model. Temu ships products directly from manufacturers and brands (mostly based in China) to consumers. This cuts the costs associated with middlemen and means most products are essentially duty-free. The vast majority of its products are below the minimum import duty in the US and UK and Temu is exempt from export duties in China
  2. Better logistics. The company boasts lower operational costs and lower spending on warehousing and inventory than its competitors. One part of this strategy is bundling individual customer products together for shipping.
  3. Cheap labor. Labor is cheaper in China than in the US and Europe. Temu has also been accused of using forced labor (more on that below.) A Temu spokesperson has denied these claims but it would help explain their low prices.

Why Are People Worried About Shopping on Temu?

Temu reviews

Despite its booming popularity, many people are asking “Is Temu legit?”, worrying that the incredible deals are just too good to be true. The company has also been involved in several controversies. Here’s what is worrying shoppers.

Bad Reviews

Of 16k+ reviews of Temu on Trustpilot, 36% are 1-star. Complaints include:

  • long delivery delays
  • undelivered items
  • poor product quality
  • damaged products
  • poor customer service
  • unpaid refunds
  • overcharging

Better Business Bureau Complaints

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has received 2,117 complaints about Temu in the last 3 years. The BBB website has given the company a rating of C+ (on a scale of A+ to F) based on factors like failure to address complaints and transparent business practices.

Temu's many BBB complaints

Data Privacy

Experts in cybersecurity and privacy have raised concerns about Temu’s privacy practices i.e. the data it collects from customers and whether it might end up in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party. Pinuoduo, a shopping app from the same parent company as Temu, was found to feature malware that spied on users, adding to these suspicions.

Because of a 2017 national security law passed by the premier of the CCP, Xi Jinping, any Chinese company is required to assist in national intelligence efforts upon request. So even if Temu doesn’t use any malware or spyware, your data could still end up in the hands of a foreign government.

Consumer Protection Issues

It is not clear that online marketplaces like Temu are subject to the same consumer protection rules as other ecommerce retailers. If something goes wrong, customers might not be able to access recourse in the same way they could if, say, Gap or Walmart failed to deliver their order.

Product Safety

The consumer protection organization Which? purchased various products from Temu and ran safety tests. The electric heaters they tested were found to be unsafe and could not legally be sold in the UK. An organization called Toy Industries of Europe purchased 19 toys from Temu. None complied fully with EU law and 18 “posed a real safety risk for children.” This is why critics argue that purchasing anything like appliances (especially heaters and anything using a lot of electricity) and toys from Temu is probably not a good idea.

Counterfeit Products

Temu and its competitors, namely Shein, are famous for facilitating the sale of all kinds of counterfeit goods. For example, you can find all kinds of fake, clearly counterfeit electronics like imitation Apple Watches and Airpods for $10-20. Pinuoduo has been placed on the US Trade Representative’s Office’s blacklist of companies that fail to stop the sale of counterfeit goods. Designers have accused Temu of copying their products too.

The “Scammy Vibe”

It might not be hard evidence but Temu’s aggressive social media marketing campaigns, super-low prices, and gimmicky promotions make users wary. For example, they have pop-ups that allow users to spin a wheel to earn discounts and countdown clocks on promotional offers. These promotional offers, for the most part, seem to be legit, though there is almost always a catch such as a high minimum order value requirement.

Temu in the News

According to a US investigation, that there is an “extremely high risk” that forced labor is used in Temu’s supply chain. This doesn’t impact the safety of shopping on Temu but it is still an important moral issue that customers need to know about.

So Is Temu Safe?

Temu has more positive reviews than negative (44% are 5-star) And many customers are pleasantly surprised by their purchases, as you can see from the positive feedback below.

Temu review

Temu also has several policies and systems in place to protect you while you’re online shopping.

  • Refund policy. According to Temu, “Almost all items are eligible for returns and refunds within 90 days from the purchase date if,
    • “Your order doesn’t match the item descriptions or photos
    • Your item arrived damaged
    • Your item couldn’t be delivered, arrived late, or was lost in transit”

    The policy excludes groceries, free gifts, customized items, and clothing that has been worn. The first return for every order is free.

  • Payment security. Temu uses 3D Secure to verify customer identify for credit card payments. According to NordVPN, Temu uses “HTTPS across all pages and TLS and SSL encryption protocols when processing transactions which means it is “probably as secure as Amazon, Ebay, or any other online marketplace.”
  • Privacy concerns. Temu collects a lot of customer data and uses it in many ways. Their privacy policy states they “do not ‘sell’ personal information in the traditional sense”. Customers cannot decline to share data with Temu but you can opt-out of marketing communications, reject cookies, and prevent them from accessing information from a third-party platform.

How To Stay Safe On Temu

Here are 10 ways to avoid scams and stay safe while shopping on Temu.

  1. Start small. If you’re new to the platform, consider buying low-value items so that you don’t lose too much money if things go wrong.
  2. Check user reviews. Some user reviews may be fake (though this isn’t just a Temu problem). Look for products and stores with lots of positive reviews. Read a few to see if they sound authentic.
  3. Avoid products with safety implications. Generally, it’s smart to avoid products like infant car seats or electrical devices that may not meet the safety standards in your country. Don’t risk your or your family’s health to save a few bucks.
  4. Use a strong unique password or switch to passkeys. Temu knows your personal and payment details. A strong password helps stop others from accessing your account. If you notice any strange activity on your account, change your password.
  5. Verify Temu communications. Temu warns that scammers frequently use “spam messages, emails, and phone calls…to steal personal and financial information.” If a message looks suspicious, don’t click on links, download anything, or respond. Temu warns, “You can be sure that it is a fraudulent email if the domain name of the email is not one of the following: temu.com / temuemail.com / temumail.com / temuofficial.com / temufavor.com”. If you’re not sure if a communication is legit, contact Temu. fake Temu email
  6. Check the web address. Scammers use fake versions of the Temu app and website that look legitimate. Double-check that you are on the real site.
  7. Never go off-site. If a merchant asks you to do business outside the Temu app, that’s always a red flag. You will lose access to Temu’s refund policy and security features if you do so and they will likely try to scam you.
  8. Use secure payment methods. Temu will never ask you to make a transfer using Cash App so ignore any requests from a Cash App account. Consider using Paypal or even a single-use virtual card if you feel anxious. Never share payment information via email.
  9. Beware knock-offs. If you’re happy to own a knock-off, go ahead! But don’t be fooled. Apple Airpods for a tenth of the usual price are too good to be true. Many knock-offs are very convincing (as you can see from the wannabe Tag Hueur below). Check reviews, look carefully at the images, and compare them to product images on the brand website. You can also ask for certificates of authenticity for some items. fake watches
  10. Keep an eye on the news. The media reports on issues like issues like data privacy and consumer protection. Keep an eye out for new information on scams and other risks.

Common Temu Scams

Here are some common tricks to look out for.

  • Requests for information. Scammers contact users posing as Temu, a Temu merchant, or a Temu customer service agent. They will ask for information like your credit card security number, Temu passwords, or the answers to your security questions. This information can be used to commit fraud. Beware of login requests, unexpected customer service messages, or offers of gifts and freebies.
  • Attachments and links. Scammers may send you emails that look like they are from Temu containing a link or an attachment that sets off a malware download. Malware can be used to steal information stored on your device. The email may say you must click the link to confirm your order or pay customs fees.
  • Off-site payment scams. Merchants may ask users to transfer cash or make a payment using PayPal or MoneyGram. They may promise that you will be protected under Temu’s refund policy but Temu cannot refund you for payments made off-site.
  • Additional payment scams. Scammers promise users all sorts of things in exchange for payment. They might say your payment will release prize winnings, free gifts, or a loan or credit card. They might say the payment is for customs fees or speedy delivery. These are not legitimate costs.
  • Fake promos and discount codes. Scammers put videos on social media that promise viewers will earn credits if they enter a promo code. But the code only earns the scammer points while providing no benefits to the victim of the scam.
  • False advertising. Scammers use social media posts to make inaccurate claims about their Temu products.
  • False affiliate programs. In this scam, fake Temu merchants contact influencers and other affiliate marketers regarding an affiliate marketing program that doesn’t exist. The goal may be earn free promotions by failing to pay influencers as promised, or it may be to lure victims to click on malware downloads.

 

Is It Safe To Sell On Temu?

Most businesses can register to be a Temu vendor but there are a few things to bear in mind.

  • It will be hard to compete. Prices are low on Temu and the products are made cheaply. Your margins are likely to be very low and competitors may have access to cheaper materials and labor.
  • The future of the business is uncertain. It is thought that Temu is currently offering at a loss. Some people believe their business model is unsustainable. Consider whether it is wise to build your business around Temu.
  • There may be a data risk. Temu’s sister app, Pinduoduo, was accused of installing malware on users’ devices. There is no evidence that Temu does the same thing but it’s worth being aware of the risk.

How To Start Selling On Temu

If you’re convinced that Temu is safe enough to sell on, the process to get started is pretty simple. To start, contact Temu. They will provide a link for you to register as a vendor. You’ll need to submit business information such as your business license, shipping documentation, and tax information.

Next, list your products, providing images, prices, and descriptions. Some sources say Temu will require samples of your products for review.

Make sure you have systems in place to manage efficient shipping and customer service and that you’re aware of Temu’s packaging rules.

Temu offers analytics tools for tracking sales so you can make informed decisions to optimize your store.

Alternatives To Temu

If you’re concerned about shopping on Temu, you can explore other e-commerce sites. Wish, Shein, and Alibaba offer a wide range of affordable products but they face some of the same criticisms as Temu (here’s our advice on shopping safely on Alibaba).

Amazon and eBay are go-to sites for many shoppers and are not based in China which means they are more likely to abide by US law. They also both have fantastic return policies.

Etsy, meanwhile, is great for small businesses, crafters, collectors, and handmade items.

Is Temu Safe Enough?

If you choose carefully, you can find great deals on Temu, but don’t expect excellent quality from every purchase or top-notch customer service from every merchant. Scammers impersonating Temu are out to get your money and your information. Exercise caution to safely shop like a billionaire.