10 Tips to Avoid Scams when selling Online

Do you want to make some money by selling things online? It could be something you don’t need anymore or things you bought from the retail market and want to make some profit out of it.

Classified market apps like eBay, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and many more have completely revolutionized the way we used to sell things.

While these apps brought the world to your fingertips, it also opened the doors to the scammers. But, if we figure out the whole strategy of selling online, with necessary precautions, this can be lucrative for you.

Scams can affect you when you are selling your stuff online and knowing how to stay away from this help you from becoming another victim.

Just follow these simple tips to be safe and avoid scams while selling online.

1. Choose where to sell

Almost a decade ago, there were only a few websites to sell your stuff online. but now, there are hundreds of apps and websites, where you can upload the detail about your items and start selling in no time.

Although, sometimes choosing which site or app is best for you can be overwhelming, but it’s well worth your effort and time. Each App has its own distinctive set of features that makes it attractive for a certain type of seller. The best choice depends on what you are planning to sell online and how much time and effort you are willing to invest.

For example, if you are looking to sell only hand-made products, Etsy is a great option. If you want something easy and without a monthly subscription fee, sites like Craiglist, Letgo, Facebook marketplace are your savors.

2. Verify the buyer’s authenticity

Of course, not all buyers are looking for freebies, but it is important that you have at least some information about the buyer.

These websites and apps also keep banning the users with fraudulent behavior, to save other users from scams. But these people will just keep opening new accounts, so if you see a new account or one with almost no recent activity, it is better to stay away from that buyer, if possible.

3. Do not give away your personal information

You may be using a reliable and authentic website to sell your stuff online, but you shouldn’t trust a person you haven’t met before in real life. You should never give away your personal information such as a home address, social security number, bank information, or E-mail address, etc.

Craigslist allows users to use masked E-mail addresses to communicate over the platform and some other apps let you have chat without giving away your personal information to the potential buyers directly in the app itself.

If a buyer asks for your account number or insists on your address, it is a good sign that this can lead to troubles in the future. If a buyer is genuine, he/she will be more interested in the detail of the item, rather than where you live, or when you leave for work.

Scammers are also polite and humble. They are good at winning the trust of the prospective victim. Don’t fall in their trap and stick to the ‘business’ tone. Make sure that your communication is strictly related to the things you are selling, and when the transaction is complete, you can go on back to your life without inviting any scammer to make things hard.

4. Meet in a public place

It is not just related to online selling. Meeting someone for the first time, you haven’t met before, could be risky. The best way to meet a stranger for the first time is to meet at a public place. You could choose a coffee shop, a restaurant, or even a parking lot for a busy mall for handing over the item to the buyer.

Busier the place is, better it is. A legit buyer won’t mind meeting you at a public place, and will likely appreciate the suggestion because he/she is also concerned about his/her safety, too.

Some police stations are even designated as Safe Trade Stations, which makes the transactions safer for everyone involved in the sale. If you or buyer doesn’t have access to such police stations, rather stick to some other public place.

It is also wiser to bring someone along or tell a friend or family member about your whereabouts. You can even post this on social media so the buyer can see that too.

Let’s say, you meet at a public place, but then the buyer asks you to accompany him/her to the ATM in the street behind the place to get the money from the car, avoid going with him/her. Ask the buyer to get the money, and do the transaction at the same place, where you decided to complete the transaction.

5. Stick to the rules

Most of the websites or Apps dealing with online sales have some kind of set of rules for the sake of their users’ security. If a buyer wants to ditch any of these, it’s a sure sign of red flag.

For example, if you have listed your item on eBay, you may get a buyer who offers to pay immediately and settle outside the platform. It may seem attractive offer, but as soon as you close the listing, they will complain to eBay that your item was fake or defective.

You can try to raise a dispute, but eBay won’t help you as they know nothing about your communication outside of eBay.

The rules are placed for the security of buyers and sellers, so if someone asks you to go against these, simply hit the delete button without any further communication with the buyer and move on to the genuine ones.

6. Meet face to face

According to Craigslist, you can avoid 99% scams by dealing locally. You can’t just trust someone you never met before. It is always better to have a face-to-face meeting at a public place and then decide about the transaction. Logically, the only genuine buyer won’t have any problem with this arrangement.

If the shipping is offered by the website or app, that’s an exception and hopefully, if you are following the App’s policy, the transaction should go smooth without any hitch.

7. Deal in cash if possible

Online payment processors like PayPal, Venmo have made online transactions like a breeze but it also created an opportunity for the scammers. They can get the product and reverse the payment claiming the item was broken or faulty. In other cases, buyers can use stolen credit cards or hacked accounts, which the company can reverse and there is no rescue for the seller.

So, just to be on the safe side, don’t use these payment processors if paying in cash is an option. This also goes for personal checks, cashier’s checks, wire transfers, or money orders.

Usually, such deals seem too good to be true, and the buyer is usually ‘moving’, ‘relocating’, or ‘traveling’. He may ask you to ship to some other address than the one mentioned in the account or send you a cashier check. According to Craigslist, the cashier check is always fake and printed on your name, address, etc.

The scammer may also offer you the partial payment upfront and the remaining through an online escrow service, Western Union, or cashier check. Do not accept such offers, unless you want to sell your items for the partial payment.

8. Avoid partial refunds

The purpose of refund is to secure the buyer but sometimes, scammers use this to their advantage. If you get a request for a partial refund against the damaged or broken product, ask for the proof.

If they provide you with the proof, you know what to do, but if they are hesitant to send you any video or pictures of broken or damaged goods, they probably trying to get easy money from you.

9. Document item’s condition

It doesn’t matter if you are selling a brand new item or the used one. You should have the evidence of the item being functional. You can take pictures, or shot a video.

Having a friend as a witness along with you, while you hand over the item to the seller can also be an extra precaution. You can take pictures, or make a video to document the condition of the item. Once, the buyer is happy with the purchase, you can delete the content. This will save you from the later ‘refund request’ or ‘it doesn’t work’ claims.

10. Watch out for any red signals – trust your instinct

Sometimes, everything seems okay but in your heart, you know that ‘something is not right’. If you feel this at any stage of the communication, it is better to leave the buyer and walk away.

This tip may seem rational rather than logical but as the research suggested, Intuition or gut feelings are also the result of a lot of processing that happens in the brain.

Online scams are disheartening, but the key is to be alert and recognize the scam. Be sure to follow all these tips, and you are ready to make some extra money online.

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