Tips for Buyers

As a buyer, you can take steps to ensure your shopping experience is enjoyable, satisfying, and safe.

Before you buy...

  • DEAL LOCALLY WITH FOLKS YOU CAN MEET IN PERSON - follow this one simple rule and you will avoid 99% of the scam attempts.
  • Read the product description carefully. Look at any accompanying photographs, and be clear about what you are buying. Is the asking price realistic? Compare the price with other similar items and be skeptical if it seems too low. Who will pay for shipping costs? Has the seller provided any payment options or information on shipping? If you need further information about the listing, contact the seller using the Send a Message to the Seller feature. Understand that it is up to you to learn as much as you can about the item before you buy it.
  • Use caution with sellers who promise you their item at a lower price if you complete the transaction outside of the online marketplace site. It could be a scam.
  • When you are prepared to make a realistic offer of bid, remember that if your offer is accepted or your bid wins, you have entered a binding contract to purchase the item and you are obligated to follow through with the transaction. If you refuse to complete the transaction, you may lose your shopping privileges in this marketplace.

Before you pay...

  • Discuss payment options with the seller. Be cautious of sellers that only provide one option. Decide if you are comfortable sending payment prior to receiving your goods.
  • When arranging payment and pickup of purchases, protect your privacy by revealing only the essential details of your contact and personal information. Do not provide any personal information such as your social security (social insurance) number, credit card number, driver's license number, or bank account number to the seller or any escrow or online payment service until you have verified their legitimacy.
  • Payment through an escrow service can be a good idea. For a small fee, an escrow service will hold your payment until you receive the goods from the seller. Once you are satisfied that you have received what you were promised, the escrow service will forward your payment to the seller. However, beware of fake escrow services. If the seller insists on using a specific escrow service, visit its website and read through its terms of service and privacy policy. Know what recourse you have if the goods are not delivered as promised. Click on links to see where they go and call any numbers it has listed (it should have a customer service number) to verify its legitimacy. Check with your local consumer protection agency such as the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been registered against the company. If you are at all uncomfortable, suggest an alternative escrow service. A seller that refuses to consider an alternative escrow service should not be trusted.
  • Do not send payment by wire transfer. Wire transfers are best reserved for situations where you know the person you are sending it to.
  • Insist that the seller arrange for shipping insurance and have them provide your with a tracking number so you can monitor the delivery.
  • Protect yourself by documenting all transactions with the seller.

You can also protect yourself from fraud by becoming knowledgeable about the latest online scams. Visit the following websites to find out more information or to file a fraud complaint:

U.S. Agencies

Federal Trade Commission
http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/edcams/onlineshopping/

Federal Bureau of Investigation
http://www.fbi.gov/becrimesmart.htm

Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)
http://www.ic3.gov/

Fraud Warning: Pet-Air
http://www.flypets.com/specials2.asp


Tips for Sellers

As a seller, you can take steps to ensure your own success and to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of an online scam.

To become a trusted seller...

  • When placing your ad, describe your product honestly. Is it new, used, or reconditioned? Is your asking price realistic and fair. Have you posted a photo of your item that portrays it accurately? Have you specified payment and shipping options? Have you provided the buyer with enough information to make an informed decision?
  • Do not place bids on your own item to drive up the final selling price. This is considered fraud and is called "shilling".
  • Contact the buyer as soon as a purchase is made to discuss payment and shipping options. Once you receive payment, promptly ship the item to the buyer.

To protect yourself from scam...

  • DEAL LOCALLY WITH FOLKS YOU CAN MEET IN PERSON - follow this one simple rule and you will avoid 99% of the scam attempts.
  • Use caution with buyers who offer to overpay you. A common scam involves the buyer paying you more than you ask for and then requesting a refund. Unfortunately, the original payment sent by the buyer is usually not legitimate.
  • Beware of buyers who are in a hurry to get the goods. Be certain that the payment has successfully gone through before you ship the goods.
  • NEVER WIRE FUNDS VIA WESTERN UNION, MONEYGRAM or any other wire service, especially if you are the seller and should be receiving money. Anyone who asks you to do so is a scammer.
  • When shipping your merchandise, purchase insurance and provide a tracking number to the buyer so both of you can monitor the delivery. This will protect you against buyers who claim they never received the package and request a refund.
  • If a buyer gives you a cashiers check or money order, have your financial institution verify it and wait for it to clear before shipping the goods. Another option is to insist upon a check drawn on a local bank so you can visit the bank yourself to ensure the check is valid.
  • Payment through an escrow service can be a good idea. For a small fee, an escrow service will hold the buyer's payment until they receive the goods from you. Once the buyer is satisfied that they have received what they were promised, the escrow service will forward you the payment. However, beware of fake escrow services. If the buyer insists on using a specific escrow service, visit its website and read through its terms of service and privacy policy. Click on links to see where they go and call any numbers it has listed (it should have a customer service number) to verify its legitimacy. Check with your local consumer protection agency such as the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been registered against the company. If you are at all uncomfortable, suggest an alternative escrow service. A buyer that refuses to consider an alternative escrow service should not be trusted.
  • Protect yourself by documenting all transactions with the buyer.

You can also protect yourself from fraud by becoming knowledgeable about the latest online scams. Visit the following websites to find out more information or to file a fraud report:

U.S. Agencies

Federal Trade Commission
http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/edcams/onlineshopping/

Federal Bureau of Investigation
http://www.fbi.gov/becrimesmart.htm

Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)
http://www.ic3.gov/

Fraud Warning: Pet-Air
http://www.flypets.com/specials2.asp

Now for the words for warning from our attorney:

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