Like any other online exchange (and those in the real world i.e. physical market), the Marketplace attracts its share of swindlers and scammers. So here are some guidelines for making online Marketplace a source of cheer, not cheats.
Here are five suggestions for ensuring your online Marketplace experience is a good and secure one:
- Use a credit card or secure electronic payment service for all transactions. The Marketplace doesn’t have any built-in payment mechanism, so you have to arrange payments directly with the other party in a transaction. Unscrupulous sellers may insist on cash, gift cards, or other untraceable payment methods, and shady buyers may fall for such. Reputable online Marketplace traders will welcome the use of secure services; which benefits legit buyers and sellers alike.
- Avoid transactions that don’t involve local buyers/sellers. In theory, Facebook will only show you potential buyers and sellers within your area. (You can choose a radius as small as two miles or as wide 100 miles, but the default is 40 miles.) If a seller tells you they’ll have an item shipped from a greater distance away, there’s a possibility the order will never arrive, or that it won’t be what was promised. And if a buyer asks you to ship an item long-distance, especially internationally, consider steering clear: The scam there is for the buyer to cancel the payment once the item is in transit and irretrievable by you.
- Check out buyer/seller profiles. When you click on an item that’s offered for sale on an online platform say Facebook, check the seller’s profile under “seller information.” Make sure they’re located in your area and check Facebook to see if you have mutual friends. If they’ve only been on Facebook for a short time, or if they have very few friends, that could be a warning sign. Also, search for their name on Facebook; if you see more than one profile using the same name and photo, that should raise a red flag.
- Inspect before making payment. If you’re purchasing an item, make sure you can “see the goods” before you authorize payment. If the item is jewelry or collectible, bring along an expert who can verify its value. If it’s electronic, plug it in or add batteries to make sure it works.
- Meet the buyer/seller in a public place. To finalize exchanges, pick a public spot if possible; bring a friend, and if you feel uncomfortable, record a video or take a few snaps of the exchange, so you can identify the other party easily if there are any disputes afterward.