The Best Guide to Avoiding Scams & Staying Safe on Online Marketplaces
Online auction and second-hand marketplace sites can be a great way to save money on everything from clothing to electronics. However, they can also be a breeding ground for scammers who are looking to take advantage of unsuspecting buyers and sellers. In this blog post, we’ll share some tips for staying safe and avoiding scams on these popular sites.
Ratings & Reviews
When shopping on online auctions and second-hand marketplace sites, it’s important to be cautious when checking trusting the seller. A great way to know how cautious or not to be is by checking the seller’s ratings and reviews, which can help you in determining whether or not the seller is trustworthy and reliable.
Look for sellers with high-ratings and positive reviews from other buyers on the site – If a seller has no ratings or reviews, be cautious. Also, It’s possible that low ratings and reviews are a result of them being a new seller, rather than a scammer, so if possible, check how long they’ve been a user for (but, it’s always better to be safe than sorry!).
Additionally, it’s important to remember that scammers will often create fake accounts, which they use to sell non-existent and/or counterfeit items on. They may offer items at a lower price than elsewhere to entice buyers, but remember, if it sounds too good to be true… it probably is! So, make sure to do your research on the seller before making any purchases.
One of the most common ways that scammers try to get money from buyers is by asking them to use a money order or to wire money instead of paying through the site’s payment system. Simply put: Don’t do it. This is an immediate red flag that the seller is trying to scam you, so stick to your guns and only pay through the site’s secure payment system.
If a seller insists on using an alternative payment method, such as wiring money or using a money order, it’s best to walk away from the deal and block the user (if possible). Scammers often ask for these payment methods because they are almost impossible to trace and get your money back if something goes wrong. Persisting with using the site’s trusted secure payment system will ensure that you are protected in case anything goes wrong with the transaction.
If you’re buying or selling items locally and need to meet in person for a pickup, always do so in a public place. Don’t invite strangers to your home or go to their home alone. Consider bringing a friend with you for added safety. This will help protect you from potential scammers who may try to take advantage of you.
When meeting in a public place, try to choose a well-lit and busy location. For example, you could meet at a coffee shop or a shopping mall. Avoid meeting in secluded or isolated areas, as these can be dangerous. If the seller insists on meeting somewhere that makes you uncomfortable, it’s best to cancel the transaction.
Secure Passwords & 2FA
When creating an account on an online auction or second-hand marketplace site, use a secure password that would be difficult to guess. A secure password should be at least eight characters long, and it should include a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols, and try to avoid using common words or phrases, such as “password” or “123456”.
If available, enable two-factor authentication (2FA). When logging into your account, two-factor authentication requires you to enter a code in addition to your password, hence ‘two-factor’, as there are two layers of security required in order to enter your account. The code is usually sent to your phone or email, and it helps protect your account from hackers and other malicious users. Remember, the rule of thumb here is to never share your password or 2FA code with anyone – even if they claim to be from the site’s customer service department.
Report Suspicious Activity
If you come across a seller or buyer that you suspect could be a scammer, report them to the website immediately. Most online auction and second-hand marketplace sites have a reporting system in place for this very purpose, so be sure to provide as much detail as possible about the suspicious activity.
By reporting suspicious activity, you not only protect yourself from falling victim to potential scams, but you also help in making the platform a safer environment for all users. Online marketplaces rely heavily on user feedback to identify and remove scammers, so don’t hesitate to report any suspicious activity that you may come across.