Temu storms Aussie market. Is it taking your data as well as your money?

There’s a new(ish) retailer in Australia’s online world, and it might be after more than just your money. The entry of China-based Temu to the Australian market has prompted questions about the type and amount of user data it is collecting.

Temu’s range of products and gadgets is wide, from lip gloss and water bottles to touchscreen watches and headphones. And most of these products sell for what appear to be bargain basement prices. Whether the quality of these products accords with those prices, I don’t know.

But perhaps more concerning than the quality of its merchandise is the depth of information it is harvesting from its customers. One source claims Temu’s harvest includes names, addresses, phone numbers, birthdays, pictures, and links to social media profiles. And security experts suggest that Temu is not exactly being transparent about what information it is collecting.

Who or what is Temu?

This is a question I found myself asking earlier this year. Seemingly out of nowhere, ads for Temu products began popping up on websites and apps I regularly used. There’s nothing unusual about that. New retailers turn up all the time. Many disappear without a trace just as quickly.

What struck me about Temu’s ads, though, was photos of the products themselves. At first glance, I was unable to discern what the products actually were. In fact, months later, I still can’t.

One of the earliest examples popped up on The Age’s online site early in June. Midway through a news article, this image appeared:

To this day, I cannot explain what any of these items are. And such was the suggestive nature of at least one of them, I dared not click on the link to find out.

A friend of mine was similarly incredulous when he saw the left-hand photo. “I see the ‘baboon’s arse’ padded cycling shorts are back in stock,” he posted alongside a screenshot.

My feeling is that these odd items were featured to pique curiosity and encourage clicks on Temu’s website. It appears to have been a successful tactic. Data from July indicates Temu had the fastest-growing online audience among Australian retailers earlier this year.

A quick jump onto Temu’s website this morning revealed more easily identified items such as women’s clothes, men’s shoes and musical instruments. But, of course, you’ll need to sign up and sign in to find out more and be able to buy.

Will you become a data martyr?

Is Temu different from any other retailer in the data they collect from you? Perhaps not, but the retailer has been cited by many security experts highlighting just how much data we give away. All in the pursuit of an online bargain.

The fact that Temu is owned by Chinese e-commerce giant PDD plays into concerns about personal data falling into the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.

Users are concerned that their personal information could potentially be misused or shared without their consent. That’s a fair concern, but is there anything you can do about it?

If you have the discipline and inclination, there is. RMIT cybersecurity expert Dr Arathi Arakala recommends buyers turn off location sharing when using apps such as Temu. They should also avoid logging in through personal social media accounts, and delete cookies and history after using the platform.

Dr Arakala also recommended setting up a dedicated email address for online shopping. This will prevent any data from your regular email address being accessed.

The advice for anyone considering purchasing through Temu is the same as it would be for any other retail purchase. Take appropriate precautions when sharing information, only share necessary data, and change your password regularly.

That will increase your chances of having a happy shopping experience and a merry Christmas.

Have you purchased any products from Temu? How happy were you with the experience? Let us know via the comments section below.

Also read: How online retailers trick you into spending more

Andrew Gigacz
Andrew Gigaczhttps://www.patreon.com/AndrewGigacz
Andrew has developed knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income and government entitlements, as well as issues affecting older Australians moving into or living in retirement. He's an accomplished writer with a passion for health and human stories.


  1. I have purchased from Temu twice. The products are of reasonable quality (nothing is of high quality any more) so represented very good value for money given how cheap they were. The first order arrived on time and the second one a few days late for which I was given a $5 credit as compensation. My only complaint is that they have a very active marketing operation which sends me too many emails. One a day would be more than adequate, in fact once a week would be best.

  2. I have never personally used this site but like everyone else I get bombarded with TEMU advertising so their exposure budget must be huge.
    I have heard from a reliable source that your credit card has a high likelihood of being scammed after becoming their customer.

  3. I just finished reading the article about TEMU, went back to my emails, and up popped one from TEMU!
    I took a screenshot, but don’t know how to share it on here. It was headed TEMUpackage_53703. Dear (beginning of my email address). Claim your mystery box. Please confirm………
    I will, of course delete this, but keep the screen shot, maybe post it on FB to warn others?
    But I’d LOVE to know how they tracked me from reading your article…they’re definitely very sus!

    • Dear Jellybean … this is a scam and one must learn the difference – am sorry to say that as it seems l think you were not .. l have ordered from TEMU – directly from their site – l too have found tenth of messages concerning “pallets” which l straight away throw because those are scam – l at first have sent them to the psishing address .. and now l only throw them without opening any of them – hoping this can help in some way …

  4. I purchased a smart watch that look very good, for a very cheap price, however it would not pair with my phone. I complained to Temu and they gave me a refund and did not require the watch to be returned.

  5. I have u sed Temu a couple of times and have no complaints. Orders arrived on time and quality was commensurate with what I paid so no surprises. Experience has taught me over the years to never give mail order companies my credit card details. I always use PayPal because they are then the only ones with your card details and they are never revealed to the merchant. Secondly, if the merchant won’t take PayPal it is a very good sign they are bogus and it’s a scam. The reason being is all companies have to make certain guarantees with PayPal to use their services and if there is a problem they are barred. If there is anything wrong with the order (not what you ordered or broken etc or order never arrived) you can make a complaint to PayPal and get your money back. They will chase up the merchant independently. The other thing is if you can’t unsubscribe from the bombardment of marketing emails report them as spam, that works!

  6. I purchased one of their $5 boxes, supposedly containing 10 items of great value. I didn’t receive the box, they had no record of my purchase AND my credit card was scammed out of $110!!
    DON’T buy from this company. I complained to them and, after three weeks still haven’t received a reply.

  7. I too have put an order to Temu and they neither ask special details or anything about private matters ! l received the goods in quite a very short time and all was as ordered – Concerning returns that is also quite unusual as they gibe you 3 months to return free of charges -with no explanation whatsoever – l had a chat with one of their employees and it was courteous and efficient – They even did not ask for me to return the unwanted goods – so l dont know why so much is said about Temu and in a bad way ! – l previously had worse experience with on-line commerce – what l can say is that l have found Temu honnest and trustable – up to now . Of course all what they sell is/could be not of 1st choice quality but as a customer l have learnt to “read” and assess what could be the limits of choice versus quality ! – you get the same bad surprises when you buy from what used to be called the “one-dollar-shops” – One must still keep her/his good sense and know that all has a price in this now “too-much-too-good-easily-trapsetting” world …

  8. Im not sure if it the dishonest rumours are true or not, but i used the app a few times and they even honored a refund request for items not matching the description. No problems at all. I also pay through Paypal and i use a seperate email account specifically dedicated to this company. Then one of my credit cards was used fraudulently online and picked up by the bank so i didnt lose anything. A few months later another was used and the other bank also picked it up. I also receive multiple fraudulant emails to my genuine personal account that contained very specific knowledge of one of my contacts. After the second credit card attempt, someone said to me “do you have the temu app on your phone, you better look into that, there has been lots of chatter online about it”. So i have deleted the app, still not sure if that has anything to do with it but i have never had this much trouble with credit card fraud before.

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