Internet fraud is on the increase. And you need to take extra care when buying items through classified adverts as it is all too easy for someone to con you out of your hard earned pennies.
Here is our checklist to help you stay safe, and enjoy the online shopping experience!
- Trust your intuition.
If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. Be cautious. There are some great deals to be had out there, but there are plenty of people who will happily take your money and provide you with a sub-standard item. This especially applies when you are having an item posted to you. By the time you receive it, the seller will be long gone with your cash, and you can be left with something that is unusable. Which leads me on to number 2…
- Where possible, view items in person.
When buying large, high value items via a classified advert, it really does pay to try and stay fairly local so that you can view the item first before handing over payment. You can see the item in the flesh, examine it from top to toe, give it a try out and make sure that it is definitely for you, and that the condition is good enough for you. Don’t be afraid to turn an item down if it is not up to scratch.
- Pay by cash in person, or pay by a secure online method.
As detailed above – if you are viewing an item and are happy, then by all means pay by cash. If you really have to pay online, please use a secure method of payment. PayPal offer a good and safe way to pay that involves no personal details being disclosed. Ensure that you use the ‘Goods’ option as this covers you if an item fails to arrive. No matter how much you ‘trust’ the seller do not be tempted to pay by the ‘Friends and Family’ or ‘Gift’ option. Yes, there are no fees, but there is also no protection should anything go wrong. It’s not worth the risk.
- Never agree to pay a deposit.
It is so easy to be tempted into paying a ‘deposit’ to secure an item, or agree to pay in instalments. Don’t. You may find your deposit disappears, never to be seen again. Or you will pay the large majority of instalments only to discover the seller has mysteriously vanished just before the final payment. You can wave goodbye to your hard earned cash then.
- Don’t disclose any personal details.
Please don’t allow anyone access to your bank details. It is so easy for people to hack your account with the minimum of details, and you might just find your account emptied. Also be wary of passing on your address or phone numbers, especially on social media sites. You never know who is watching – it’s just not worth the risk. Keep yourself protected.
If you are the seller, you also need to keep alert. There are scams that can leave the seller out of pocket too. Watch out for the ‘overpayment’ scam. This is where the buyer offers to pay you more than you are asking for an item – sounds great right? Wrong! The buyer will give you a money order or cheque for the item – and these will often clear in many accounts before they are detected as fake. So you think the money is clear, you dispatch the item – and then find out you are left with no money – by which time it is too late. Be careful if using a bank transfer – these are perfectly safe, but do make sure the money lands safely in your account before you allow the buyer to take the item.
Again, as a seller, be aware of giving out too many personal details. Address may be necessary for an item to be collected, but it’s a good idea to have someone there with you for the collection – just to be safe. Avoid giving out bank details where possible – again be very careful on social media.
Buying and selling online can be great, and there are some real bargains to be snapped up. Just play it safe, be cautious and don’t be afraid to walk away and look elsewhere. Better safe than sorry!
* This is a collaborative post *