Avoiding Online Selling Scams

How to avoid scams written on a chalkboard

The Web 3.0 has given people the ability to buy and sell nearly anything they want from the convenience of their home computer or mobile device. This uptick in consumer behavior has not gone unnoticed by individuals willing to utilize scams to defraud unaware sellers.  The aim of this post is to provide sellers with knowledge of things to be aware of when selling items to individuals online via websites or Apps.

It’s recommended you take advantage of any seller protection features offered on an e-commerce site. If an individual is attempting to get you to circumvent the site’s payment method this should be a potential indicator of fraudulent activity. An example of this could be a buyer offering more than your asking price if you deal with them directly through email and not on the e-commerce site. This scenario could play out as the following:

Let’s say you post a laptop for sale online and a buyer contacts you interested in purchasing your laptop. For whatever reason, at some point the conversation moves to email for convenience. After a few detailed questions asked about the item for sale, the buyer offers you 25 percent more than your asking price if you accept a cashier’s check or money order rather than the sites checkout and payment method. You accept this generous offer from the buyer; however, when the payment arrives it is for double the sales price instead of the 25 percent extra. The buyer claims to have made a mistake and asks you to return the difference by wire transfer (a method difficult for a seller to trace). You send the difference and while waiting for the check or money order to clear. A notification arrives from your bank saying the check did not clear and now you are out of money and a laptop.

This is just one of many scams that individuals use to deceive online sellers into parting with an item or their funds. To combat this issue, we have listed things to be aware of when selling items online.

New Accounts

Be wary of individuals with accounts less than 9 months old. Not to say that new accounts automatically indicate scammer behavior, but this mental check can be thought of as a precautionary protective boundary to screen potential scammers out. Accounts exhibiting behavior of scamming acts will get banned after a few reported incidents. To bypass this security feature, individuals will create new accounts after being banned again on the site.

Partial Funds

Another online selling scam to be mindful of are partial funds request. This type of scam entails the buyer contacting a seller saying the item is damaged or totally non-functioning upon arrival. To avoid the hassle of returning an item and a full refund for it, the buyer will attempt to convince the seller a partial refund will clear everything up. Before agreeing to any type of refund request a seller should have confirmation in a video or photo showing the damaged item. If the request appears legitimate, ask the buyer to return the item for a full refund. Refusal on the buyer’s part to return the item could be a sign of a refund scam.

Mailing Address

When possible do not ship an item to an address different from the payment address. This could be an indicator a credit card account has been hacked and is being used to make fraudulent purchases. Another thing to watch out for is a P.O. Box listed as the mailing address. This should be a red flag when selling high priced items online to individuals you never met. If you have doubt about a transaction it’s best to cancel and not proceed to avoid losing money.

Selling a Car

When you sell a car online using various websites take the following into consideration:

  • It should be a red flag when buyers who want to conclude a transaction as quickly as possible.
  • Do not sell someone a car who is unable or unwilling to meet you face to face.
  • Confirm with your bank that a check (personal, cashier’s, certified, or otherwise) has cleared the bank before you transfer title or the car keys to a buyer.
  • If an offer seems too good to be true, it is probably a scam. Best course of action would be to not deal with the person and wait for an opportunity that you are comfortable with conducting.
  • Do not accept large amounts of hard currency (cash) for transactions settled in person.

Understanding and using the information provided in this post will assist in protecting you from online selling scams. Stay up to date with reported scams in your area by visiting the Better Business Bureau scam tracking website, BBB Scam Tracker. Bookmark Alabama Cybersecurity website to stay informed on the latest issues and useful tips to stay safe online.