6 Common Instacart Scams and How to Avoid Them

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instacart scams

Instacart is one of the most popular grocery delivery services, operating in +3000 cities in the United States and Canada. The delivery app partners with most supermarkets, local grocery stores, and even pharmacies in your area, including membership stores like Costco. In April 2020 the Instacart CEO Apoorva Mehta said the company had passed its 2022 goals. However, the popularity brought out a lot of Instacart scams, as well.

Instacart scams are not statistically a very significant problem but it is not uncommon to run into unpleasant situations.

So, let's get to Instacart scams, at least the most common ones. You will learn how to protect yourself.

1. Instacart bots

The more Instacart succeeds as a grocery delivery app, the more drivers they attract to their platforms. For many drivers it remains a side hustle that offers same day pay, but for others, it has become one of their primary sources of income.

Like many gig workers, Instacart personal shoppers are independent contractors, they’re responsible for any costs associated with their vehicle, like gas, tolls and maintenance. They are paid per order and start off their day by opening an app.

The Shopper app is the main working tool for Instacart workers. With the app drivers find delivery jobs in their area. After they log in, drivers will repeatedly tap a big green button to claim available batches.

A common complaint from Shoppers is that there are too many Shoppers around. Delivery personal driver jobs are available in all the 50 U.S. states. In addition, with the coronavirus pandemic the San Francisco headquartered company announced plans to hire 30 000 new workers.

The competition can be cutthroat, with hundreds of drivers competing for a batch at the same time.

In response to this competitive job market, some Instacart drivers were looking for ways to survive the competition and have begun using bots. This Instacart hack is a combination of hardware and software that has recently surged from third-party bots that are faster than humans and seize the high-valued batches before other shoppers are able to claim them. Bots also remove some of the frustrations of the app, like having to hit refresh constantly.

The use of third party tools to accept delivery jobs is unacceptable. Using a bot is technically cheating and against Instacart’s policies. It creates an unfair advantage, is against the Instacart terms of service, and can result in removal from the Instacart platform.

We suggest you join our Facebook page to get alert about the delivery job and our YouTube channel where we post videos about our experience as a gig economy worker. You can also take a look at our guide with best tips to earn more working with Instacart.

Related Article: How Late Does Instacart Deliver

2. Instacart Complaints

instacart complaints

A customer can report a bad experience with a delivery to the Instacart Care team Unhappy customers can even choose to delete their Instacart account.

An emerging number of customers are looking at how to cheat Instacart and how to hack shopping apps.

The most common Instacart issues reported to the customer service are:

  • Wrong Item;
  • Damaged Item;
  • Poor Replacement;
  • Missed items

Wrong Items

It is really hard to deliver a wrong item to a customer. But to err is human. If you made a mistake during a delivery our suggestion is to accept the mistake and contact the Instacart support.

Damaged Items

As a full service shopper you have to shop and deliver groceries. One of your main goals is to provide excellent customer service. If customers have a positive customer experience, they will tip you and share this experience with friends, family and connections.

One of the false customer complaints is about damaged items. Indeed, like mostly stores, even Instacart writes off damaged goods.

To protect yourself, you have to pack the items the right way to avoid damaged items. We suggest you consult our guide to courier gears.

Poor Replacement

With the Instacart app, customers can add preferences on specific items they want and add replacement instructions. However not all the customers do it. Of course, you can use your best judgement for replacement items.

The customer is notified in their app of your selections, and they have the ability to accept or reject your choices. To avoid any kind of complaints we suggest you text the customer when an item is not available.

This can add a lot of time to orders especially orders when many items are missing. Better safe than sorry

Missed Items

With the coronavirus pandemic, Instacart and other food delivery services rolled out a new feature called "Leave at My Door Delivery" which gives customers the option to have an order left by their door during the time frame they choose instead of having an in-person hand-off.

Unfortunately some customers started to make false complaints about missing items.

Our suggestion is to be aware about fake missed delivery and always take a picture of the delivery order and keep the receipt.


Some customers complain about overcharging. This happens when your order's total exceeds the pre-authorization amount. Keep in mind that even if you sign up for the membership, you still have to pay the service fees and other local taxes.

What If It's Not a Scam?

t is a good practice to check your e-receipt to verify the items in your order.

At this point it is important to know the consumers rights on late and non delivered goods.

If you paid for an item but you never received it you are entitled to contact Instacart to ask them a refund.

The Federal Trade Commission offers protections and procedures so you don’t have to pay for merchandise you ordered but never got. But first… contact Instacart.

3. Instacart Breach

instacart data breach

You cannot be a victim of Paypal scams by using Instacart. If you have a Paypal account you were victim at least once of a paypal scam email.

While PayPal is one of the most advanced payment processors in terms of encrypted security it is not on the list of the payment methods of the Instacart app. You cannot even pay your grocery with cash.

On the other hand, with credit card payments, you don't have to worry about how much cash you have. The credit card offers great freedom in daily transactions. However, credit card fraud continues to be one of the main criminal techniques used to target the economic resources of victims and, increasingly, to steal login credentials to e-Commerce sites.

A data breach can affect customers, grocery shops and delivery workers, potentially exposing their personal information to hackers.

Instacart is a safety and secure platform. When it comes to protecting data they are a proactive company and they have dedicated teams performing routine audits and investigations to ensure the integrity of the platform across shopper and customer accounts.

According to an Instacart post, a security breach was discovered in August 2020. The online grocery shopping app recently introduced new measures to protect the platform including the two-factor authentication for all shopper logins.

4. Instacart Fraud

In the past Instacart was accused of scamming Shoppers stealing tips. The controversial tipping scandal showed that the grocery delivery was using customer gratuities to cover delivery workers' pay. After Instacart shoppers complaints the grocery service introduced introduced a new pay policy.

However, recently some untrustworthy customers started to take advantage of the tips options. They knew that drivers can actually see just how much you're tipping—before they accept your delivery request.

With a misleading attitude they offered a big tip to drivers to incentive shoppers to accept the batches and then dropping them once the order has been completed. Tip baiting is not tolerated by the company who recently changed their tipping policy. We suggest you take a look at our complete guide to Instacart tips.

Finally if you are an Instacart user and you are looking for a way to save money, the best way is to subscribe to a membership.

5. Instacart Problems

If you are experiencing problems with the instacart shopper app, the app glitch or you are having other app issues while delivering groceries, it is not always a scam. Sometimes there are some app issues.

There are a few ways to fix the “oops something went wrong” error; First check if your connection is working properly. If the app does not work we suggest you consult our complete guide to Downdetector.

If you are a user of the grocery delivery app and you get the error code 1369a on Instacart, this means that you have a problem with your payment method. Check to verify if your payment method is up to date. If it isn't, update it then try your purchase again.

Instacart Scams: How They Work and How to Protect Your Account

What are common Instacart scams and how do I spot them? Beware #instacartScams #instacartBots

Additional Scam: 6. Instacart New Device Sign In, Password Change, App Upgrade

Scammers target the driver’s pay. First of all Instacart will never call you to verify some information.

With a scam, very similar to Apple ID scams, victims receive fake emails. The message looks like it’s coming from the real Instacart admin, notifying users of some sort of unusual activity on their accounts.

Be skeptical about any kind of links and attachments, especially if you’re not sure about the source, don’t use the link or open the attachment.

The only way to steal drivers' earnings is to have access to your account. It is a part of your job to protect yourself from hackers.

When signing up for Instacart you also agree to their terms of services where it is explicitly written that you are responsible for all activities performed using the Shopper App whether the access is authorized by you or not.

Recently some Shoppers had to deal with a support scam. They received a call from someone pretending to be from Instacart support. They wanted to verify their account activities. If someone has access to your account can also have access to your earnings. Indeed, the purpose of this scam is to change your direct deposit information.

No one from the Instacart support is never going to randomly call you and ask for this information.

Finally, make sure your passwords are at least eight characters long, with a mix of upper and lower case, and include numbers or other characters, and never use the auto-complete feature for passwords. You can use the storage encryption feature on your phone to protect your private data, and set your screen to timeout after five minutes or less.

Protect yourself

Whether you are a user or shopper, here are some tips to protect yourself and avoid scams:

  • Be alert to the fact that scams exist. Whether it's over the phone, by mail, email, always consider the possibility that the approach may be a scam.
  • Do not open links contained in emails from unknown sources, you risk being directed to scam sites.
  • Don't share your Instacart Shopper login or respond to phone calls asking for remote access to your Instacart account – hang up – even if they mention the company. Scammers will often ask you to install a free upgrade, which is actually a virus which will give them your passwords and personal details.
  • Your smartphone contains significant amounts of personal data. Securing access to your mobile helps prevent someone from digging into your content, as well as remote hacking.
  • Updates to your phone's operating system and applications are essential to correcting security vulnerabilities. Thus, you are cutting the grass under the feet of the pirates and spies who would like to exploit them to penetrate your sacred digital privacy.
  • Choose your passwords carefully. Choose passwords that would be difficult for others to guess and update them regularly. A strong password should include a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. Don’t use the same password for every account/profile, and don’t share your passwords with anyone.
  • If you recognise suspicious behaviour, clicked on spam or have been scammed, take steps to secure your account and be sure to report it.
  • Be wary of unusual payment requests. Scammers will often ask you to use an unusual payment method, including preloaded debit cards, gift cards, iTunes cards….
  • Get Scam Alert. Keep alerted about the most recent scams including Social Security Scams, IRS Scams and other Phishing Scams.

Whom to Contact If You Think You are Being Scammed?

Whether you are having problems or you think you are being scammed, the only thing to do is to report the problem. So, how do you report a problem with Instacart? The easy way to contact Instacart and report a problem is via their customer service phone number: 1 (888) 246-7822

Beware! Keep Yourself Safe

A fundamental premise is be alert and protect yourself from being scammed by following our tips. Warn your family and friends know about all these Instacart scams by sharing this article using the buttons provided. You can also officially report the scammers to Instacart by contacting the Care support.

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