Be able to buy and sell online has opened up a whole new market. The issue is that without face-to-face interaction, you don’t always know who you’re buying and selling from. There are lots of scammers out there that have taken advantage of online trade. Here are some ways you can protect yourself.
Consider your method of payment
If you are the one doing the selling, you get to control the method of payment. All forms of payment have their associated risks, so it pays to always be alert. When dealing with cash, it’s best to either know the buyer already or meet up with them in person. This way you minimise getting sent counterfeit money or not enough cash. In many ways, digital money can safer for the seller. Go through a service such as Paypal that you know is secure. There are even safe ways to accept credit cards.
As a buyer, be suspicious of sellers asking for too many bank details. Also stay clear of unusual payment requests in unusual locations such as meeting someone in a carpark at 7pm.
Get to know as much about your buyer/seller
Having a small conversation before committing to a transaction can help you to work out whether the partner is trustworthy or not. For sellers, be wary of buyers looking for complex methods of payments (i.e. through someone else or half now, half later) and odd methods of shipping (someone in the USA asking you to ship to Russia).
For buyers, get to know as much about the product before committing. A seller should always provide a photo of the product. If it’s a second-hand electronic device that you’re buying, ask the seller to take a photo of the device whilst turned on. If they are an established seller, look up reviews and see what other buyers have said in regards to their wares.
Be wary of too-good-to-be-true pricing. Your first reaction may be to jump upon the offer, but they may be selling it at that price because it’s broken or stolen or counterfeit. Sometimes it can difficult to determine what is a scam and what is a true bargain. Some sellers might simply be generous, other may simply be trying to get rid of items that they’ve been unable to sell, others may just be oblivious to the going rate. Whatever the reason may be, you can always find it out simply by asking the seller and also looking into their reputation. With second-hand items, always ask what damage the product has if it is not clear in the image and information provided. It also doesn’t hurt to ask their reason for selling it. Honest sellers will be happy to tell you why, whereas dodgy dealers might ignore you or offer a blunt response.
Be careful going overboard and probing too much into the personal lives of your buyers and sellers – they may get put off and feel something dodgy is going on. Imagine you were in a shop and try to imitate a similar buyer/seller relationship.