Instacart has made the process of grocery shopping much more convenient (and pleasant) for millions of American households. However, with seemingly any space on the Internet these days, the possibility for scams exists.
So, can you get scammed on Instacart? Is the likelihood high that you will experience a scam, either as a shopper or customer? If you’d like to find out, keep reading!
Can You Get Scammed on Instacart In 2024?
Instacart certainly has had its share of scams, but it’s important to note that, for the most part, fraudulent activity makes up a very small percentage of the overall transactions on the app in 2024. Most shoppers and customers on the app are in good faith, and only a fraction are there to scam.
Let’s go over some of the most common Instacart scams and how to avoid them (or deal with them after the fact), whether you can trust the Instacart company, and even whether it’s safe overall, so keep reading!
What Are Common Scams on Instacart?
You might be surprised at how many scams are actually aimed at the shoppers, and not the customers (though there is an unhealthy dose of both) on Instacart.
Here is a list of some of the most common Instacart scams, plus what you can do to avoid them or resolve the situation after they have occurred:
1. Tip Baiting
Instacart changed its tip policy at one point, so that customers could go back and change the amount they left their shoppers (up to 24 hours after).
The intention was to reward good shoppers, and have poor ones face some financial consequence as a result of their lackluster work.
However, some customers will intentionally indicate a large tip – which the shoppers can see before they accept a batch – to bait shoppers to take their order quickly.
Then, after they have received their groceries, they’ll go back and lower the tip, or take it away entirely.
It’s entirely unethical, but it’s not illegal.
Instacart claims that it flags customers’ accounts who do this, and then monitors them for further tip baiting.
Ultimately, though, this type of scam is very difficult to prevent.
If you’re a shopper and you see a huge tip that looks too good to be true, you should proceed with caution.
If the tip does end up getting taken from you after delivery, with no wrongdoing on your end, you should absolutely contact Instacart Care support.
At least ensure that there is a paper trail to indicate this person’s tip baited you. It will make the next shoppers’ claim all the more believable and help get that customer off Instacart.
2. Instacart Shopper Theft
While most Instacart shoppers are truly there to provide good service and earn great tips, some see the lack of physical oversight as an opportunity.
They might steal one or two items out of an order, or they might make off with the entire thing.
In fact, there are Reddit message boards where ex-shoppers are urging other shoppers to quit, and reminding them to “take their free stuff.”
Meaning, for their last batch ever before quitting, just steal it.
Either way, Instacart pays the refund or will help reschedule, but it can be deeply upsetting for customers who were looking forward to their order.
There is little that can be done to prevent this, unfortunately, beyond relying on Instacart to perform more thorough background checks.
After the fact, though, customers should never feel shy about reporting something wrong with their order.
4. Order Not Delivered
Instacart has an incredibly generous and forgiving refund policy; in most cases, customer service representatives don’t ask questions, and simply refund your missing items.
This has led some enterprising customers to claim their orders were not delivered, when in fact they were.
Then they report the “missing” delivery to Instacart, who promptly refunds them for the entire thing.
And voilà – they just got their groceries completely for free (minus the tip and delivery fee).
Not only is this theft, it can hurt shopper’s ratings, as most people report missing items through the order rating that pops up when you open the app after a delivery.
One thing that shoppers can do to prevent this from coming back to them is to make sure they leave a photo of the delivery every single time.
With photographic proof, they can show that the order was left on customers’ property, just as it was supposed to be.
Instacart is still on the hook for the refund, but at least this way the little guy – the shopper, who is an independent contractor – is less likely to be penalized.
5. Breaking and Entering Into Shoppers’ Accounts
One TikTok creator posted a story about how he got scammed into giving out his account information that anyone could use to get into his Shopper account (see his story here.)
Now that we know this is how scammers are operating, shoppers: do not give your phone number out under any circumstances to customers if it’s associated with your Shopper account.
Is Instacart a Legitimate Company?
Despite occurrences of fraud – which you will have with any tech-based company – Instacart is a legitimate business backed by the BBB.
If you have ever dealt with Instacart’s customer service, you know they are generous (almost to a fault) and willing to work with you to resolve any problem.
Can Instacart Shoppers Steal?
Instacart shoppers can and do steal on occasion, but for the vast majority of transactions, everything will go off without a hitch.
If you are missing an item, don’t automatically jump to the conclusion that your shopper stole it.
Also, know that Instacart will refund you for it with minimal hassle.
Is It Safe to Use Instacart?
Overall, it is safe to use Instacart. However, you can protect yourself from fraudulent activity in a few ways.
If you are a customer, consider using only a credit card with strong consumer fraud protections. That way it’s easier to dispute a charge if Instacart happens to disagree with your claim.
Also, as a shopper, do not give out your personal information to customers.
After all, you never know if you’re being scammed for the info they need to get into your account and steal your hard-earned cash.
While Instacart works hard to prevent fraudulent activity taking place on its app, scammers still find ways to circumvent securities.
It’s important to be vigilant and use common sense – these are strangers on the other side of the app, after all – but also be aware that scamming is still rare.