Avoiding Scams in Local Buy/Sell/Trade Groups

How to protect yourself when buying online

By Guy Chapman – Navarro County Gazette

Since its inception in 2016, the Facebook Marketplace has been a popular place for locals to buy and sell items with their neighbors. Whether clearing out some unwanted items, or through making a living dealing in sales and trade, the “thrill of the hunt” for that next exciting item has made these groups a regular routine for some social media users.

Part of the Marketplace’s appeal is its ease of use: Take a photo of the item, list a price, and publish the sale. All a user needs to have to buy and sell is an active Facebook profile. Unfortunately, this flexible setup has also made the service an ideal haven for scammers.

During the holiday season, the local buy/sell/trade community was hit by scammers, with sellers taking money online, and not delivering items as promised. Instances range from not being available for pickup after taking money, an item being different than depicted in a sale photo, counterfeit items, posting photos of sale items they don’t actually own, and phishing scams for bank account and identity information.

It’s important to build a marketplace community where people can get to know and trust each other. While Facebook Marketplace sales can be risky, there are ways for buyers and sellers to protect themselves.

Check a user’s personal profile before beginning any transaction. If it’s a recently created profile with limited to no photos, friends, or activity, it’s likely a scam. Other warning signs include users who can only use one form of payment, or suddenly change prices during the transaction.

If there is an active concern of being scammed, it’s important to report bad behaviors.

According to Facebook Support, users can report scam sellers and buyers on Facebook Marketplace by doing the following:

To report sellers:

  1. From your News Feed, click Marketplace.
  2. Click a listing from the seller that you want to report.
  3. Click on the name of the seller.
  4. Click Report.
  5. Follow the on-screen instructions.

To report buyers

  1. From your News Feed, click Marketplace.
  2. Click Your Account.
  3. Click Your Listings.
  4. Click a listing the buyer purchased.
  5. Click the message between you and the buyer. If you can’t find the message, click See More.
  6. Click .
  7. Click Report Buyer.
  8. Follow the on-screen instructions.

If possible, use Facebook Checkout for making payments as it not only allows use of a credit card or PayPal, it also protects users under its Facebook Protection Program. The site’s Purchase Protection program allows users a chance to get their money back in case of a scam.

If all else fails, victims can report the crime to their local police department. It is important to keep documentation, messages, and screenshots of any transaction. Keep in mind that if a scam is happening to one person, it’s likely happening to other members in the community.

Categories: Community