10 Ways to Avoid Being Scammed on Kickstarter
What is Kickstarter?
Basically, Kickstarter allows anyone to ask people to give them money in order to do something. In turn, depending on the amount you donate, you will earn a reward. Usually it's something from the project itself, or it can be something related to the project.
However, it's very easy to be sucked in and fooled into backing a project that won't happen. It doesn't necessarily mean that the person was out to defraud you, but you never know.
This article covers the basics on how to use Kickstarter, and how to back projects smartly.
Due to continuously getting scammed on Kickstarter, I rarely back projects now. I also plainly display on my Kickstarter profile what projects were not fulfilled in an effort to advise and warn others.
Have you ever backed a project on Kickstarter?
How to Back a Project on Kickstarter
Backing projects on Kickstarter is a fairly simple process. There are some basics you want to look at with each project:
- Watch the video. If there is a video provided, then watch it. It will go into more detail about the project, how the project will be made, more about the creator, etc. Video offers a lot more information and exposes the creator more openly. If it's a poor quality video, the project itself could be poor as well.
- View the creator's profile. The profile says a lot about the person creating the project. If they offer up their Facebook information, their personal website, etc., they are exposing themselves much like a video would. Review all available information to see where they are active and if they are trustworthy.
- Review the rewards offered to backers. A lot of the first rewards basically just offer a "Thank you", instead of something tangible. If you want the product offered, then make sure you look at the rewards offering that. Be aware, some projects don't even offer the item being backed as a reward. Or, some rewards are based locally to where the creator is at, requiring the backer to travel to them.
- Review the project. Obviously, you want to review the project. A good project will have photos, time lines, etc. If it's just blocks of text, then there isn't much to show for the project. Reviewing the stretch goals is a good idea as well.
- Risks and challenges. This will outline the hurdles the creator will have when making their project come to life. This should always be reviewed, so you can determine if the hurdles are too great to sink money into.
- FAQ. The FAQ allows you to review some of the commonly asked questions, and gives you the option of asking questions yourself. You can also report the project if it's violating a rule or law.
Once you found the right project, it's easy enough to make a pledge. However, there are some warnings you should heed prior to backing a project. Review the next section before you start backing projects.
Have you ever not received a reward from a project you backed on Kickstarter?
10 Ways to Avoid Being Scammed on Kickstarter
There are always risks when backing projects on Kickstarter, such as:
- You are not guaranteed to receive your reward. Even though creators can be held liable to provide the rewards they promise, that isn't always the case. Don't assume you will receive your reward when you back a project.
- Kickstarter is in it to make money. Now a days Kickstarter allows any kind of project on the site, including stupid projects like someone making a simple meal for themselves. Kickstarter only cancels projects that could be fraudulent in nature.
- Don't go overboard and back a lot of projects. It's so very easy to back a lot of projects because you like the idea, and because the funds aren't charged to you right away. Watch what you back and constantly review the projects that are still pending.
- You don't have to give a lot of money to projects you support. Just give one dollar if you want. Sure, you may not get any rewards, but if you support a project and don't have the money, then you are at least contributing to the project.
- Don't assume you will get the item cheaper than everyone else. Most times than not, you will spend more than what someone would in retail. You are helping back a project, and that takes a lot of money to get started.
- Review the stats with the project. Are there a lot of backers? Are there any updates since the project started? That can tell you if other people believe in it and if the creator is providing further information on the project.
- Review your pledges. I would say a fourth of the projects I have backed I have gone back in and cancelled my pledge. I either didn't need the item, didn't want it, or felt like the risk was too much. There is no penalty for cancelling a pledge before the end of the funding period, so feel free to cancel if you find you don't want to back the project.
- Demand to provide all information through Kickstarter's website. There are a lot of 3rd party websites that creators use to gather backer information, such as shipping information and item selection. Don't use them. Require the creator to use Kickstarter's website. Also, check the project first to make sure they don't state ahead of time they plan to use a 3rd party website.
- Spread the word. If you are scammed, make sure to spread the word about it to everyone you know as well as through online resources. The creator may give some money back, or the government may finally step in and put some regulations on Kickstarter and other crowdfunding sites.
Modifying or Canceling Kickstarter Pledge
While the project is currently active, you can do one of two things:
- Modifying Pledge. If you want a higher reward, wish to contribute more, or wish to contribute less, then you can modify your pledge. Keep in mind you could lose your reward for contributing less.
- Canceling Pledge. If you can no longer afford to support the project, or don't think it's a good project, then you can always cancel your pledge. The creator will see that you cancelled, but the worst they can do is send you a direct message asking you why. Kickstarter discourages against this, but nothing states you aren't allowed to do it.
Once a project is past its deadline, you can't modify your pledge. So ensure you do it before the time is up on the project.
Pledging on Kickstarter
Canceling a Pledge on Kickstarter
One important part of Kickstarter is reviewing your backer history. That will allow you to see what projects are still going on, which projects you are currently backing, etc. This page should be reviewed as often as possible to ensure you keep up with all of the projects you are involved in, if you want to cancel your pledge, etc. While the ones that provide updates will be easy to track, it's the ones that don't provide updates that you will need to watch.
Backer History on Kickstarter
Have you ever created a successful project on Kickstarter?
What Happens After a Kickstarter Project is Funded
Basically, once a project is funded, you wait. But you should keep tabs on the projects you have funded:
- If the creator provides updates, you will be notified. Always read these updates. They will keep you in the loop as to what is going on, if you need to do anything, etc.
- If you are getting a reward, be prepared to provide information to the creator. This will include your name, address, choice of item, etc. You will be e-mailed when the creator is ready for this information.
- Ask for an update at least once a month. I'm not shy about this. If I don't see an update within a 30 day period, I post a comment asking for an update. Some projects take a long time to fulfill, so updates should be provided. Remember to be polite about it!
- Be prepared to be hit with spam. Some creators sell side products that may or may not involve the project you are backing. They will use updates to push these projects. Politely push back, stating you want the project you backed and don't want to see advertisements for other projects.
However, the best part about waiting for the project is finally getting your reward. That is the best part!