If you read the newspapers, you would think that every other sale on eBay is a scam. This is simply not the case. Newspapers are only interested in ‘‘bad news’‘ – which is what sells papers.
However, there is a small element of scams on eBay and here are some ways to avoid being caught.
IT LOOKS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE
It will be! There are millions of genuine bargains to be had on eBay, but not everything is as it seems. For instance, if you see an offer for an ‘’Avanti Oakwood Butcher's Block Kitchen Island Trolley’’ and a really great picture – but the price is £30.00, then beware. This product would normally sell for over £500. What will almost certainly happen, is that the ’’seller’’ will run off with your money.
‘’LET’S TAKE THE SALE OFF EBAY – I’LL DISCOUNT IT FOR YOU’’
Firstly, this is against eBay rules. Secondly, ask yourself why the seller wants you to not buy via eBay. The reason that a scammer will ask you to deal off eBay, is so that there isn’t any protection from eBay for your purchase. Then, to give you the ‘’discount’’, the seller will ask you for cash, a Western Union payment or uncrossed postal orders with no payee. If you fall for this scam, don’t expect to see any product. The safest way to buy, is via the eBay system.
THE SELLER WANTED TO BE PAID BY WESTERN UNION
Western Union is a legitimate payment system, designed for people who know each other to send cash easily around the globe. The vital part here is ‘‘people who know each other’‘. If you send money via Western Union for an eBay purchase, it means the person at the other end can simply walk away with your cash. You don’t know who they are and you have no contact address to try and claim your money back. eBay specifically bans payment via Western Union, and Western Union themselves fully endorse that ban. If anyone ever asks for a Western Union payment, then do NOT do it.
THE SELLER ASKED ME TO SEND CASH
This is the most stupid thing that you could do. What proof do you have that the seller has received the cash through the post. They will deny it arrived as ‘‘lost in the post’‘ and there isn’t anything you can do about it – other than to take an expensive lesson. Again, eBay bans cash payment for sales on eBay – the exception being cash-on-collection if you physically collect the item in person.
READ THE ADDRESS
When you make a purchase, eBay sends you an email confirming the sale. That email should show the postal address of the seller. If you purchase is for a high value item, you should check to see if the address is genuine. Does it appear in Google maps? Is a number listed by directory enquiries? A fake address could well be used by a scammer, who will try to make you pay by Western Union or similar and insist that you don’t send payment via Royal Mail. Anytime that a seller asks you NOT to post a payment you should be suspicious.
READ THE OFFER
You would be surprised how many people don’t read the offer and simply click the buy-it-now button. If you are interested in a ‘‘Lifestyle Three Burner Gas BBQ barbeque Grill’‘ – then read the offer. Does it look genuine? Does the seller have a good feedback record? Are there any suspect payment options being offered? Take a look at other items which the seller has on offer. Are there quantities of mobile phone being offered which look suspect. It is a case of ‘‘buyer beware’‘. You can tell a surprising amount by reading everything on the offer.
Everyone has to start with zero feedback. However, take care with lower feedback sellers, especially when they are offering higher value items. Although most will be fine, there will be some who are out to scam you. Things to look for, are large quantities of electronic items at very low prices, from sellers with very low feedback and an account which was registered a few days ago. Those are serious warning signs.
99.99% OF THE TIME ALL IT WELL
Which means that 0.01% of the time it isn’t fine. That would be one sale in 10,000 where a scam is involved. That is a very low percentage indeed. What you need to make sure, is that you stay in the 99.99%.
This goes a long way. Just think before you buy. Look at what is being offered. If you are slightly uncomfortable, then stop and think before you spend your money. Shopping on eBay is a very safe option – but only if you use your common sense.
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Don’t fall for eBay scam sales
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9 July 2006
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