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Money Matters Blog

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

A Bid For Safety: Keeping Yourself Out Of eBay Scams

Summer is the perfect time for clearing out the stuff cluttering your garage. And any forward- thinking entrepreneur looking to sell thinks of eBay. Though some of it may not be valuable to you, some items – like clothes, electronics and collectibles – might fetch a fair sum if you were to sell them on eBay. The global reach of the world’s largest bidding site offers tremendous potential.

Unfortunately, the big audience and big bucks also attract lots of scammers who abuse the site’s good name and your trust. Here are three common eBay scams and how to avoid them:

1. The fake payment.
You’ve sold a big-ticket item and you’re thrilled. But before you’re paid, the buyer offers more than they agreed to if they can skip the PayPal fees and instead send a certified check. Alternately, you get an email from what appears to be PayPal telling you that the payment — more than you agreed to — is in transit, but won’t be released until you provide a shipping number. Once you ship the item, the promised check never shows or bounces, or the “in transit” money from “PayPal” never comes. You’ve lost your money and the item.

The rules are simple: Never send an item until you have the cash and never accept non-electronic payment from someone you don’t know.

2. The 3rd party payment system.
A buyer refuses to use eBay’s checkout system. They insist you remove your listing, send the item to them directly, and they’ll pay you directly.

After you’ve shipped the item and received payment, they’ll contact you again, claiming the item was broken or it wasn’t as described. They’ll demand a full refund or threaten to have your eBay account banned. Since agreeing to settle a transaction outside of the service is a violation of eBay’s terms, they’ve got you cornered; you refund their money or stop selling on eBay.

If you use a site to sell, use it to finish the deal. This keeps the company involved if things go sideways and ensures you’re using the site legally and following the rules.

3. It was like that when I got it!
In this transaction, when the buyer receives the item, he sends you pictures of it with serious damage. He demands a refund, stipulating that you cough it up or take it up with eBay’s Buyer Protection Program, which will force you to issue a refund.
  1. Quite likely, the buyer is showing pictures of another, similar item. Here are two ways to prove it: Insist buyers purchase shipping insurance on all expensive or fragile items and take time-stamped pictures of the item before it’s sent. You now have proof the device was working, and the buyer can take up damage claims with the shipping company.
  2. Include a disclaimer in the item description about refunds; a statement like “no refunds” puts you in the clear.
eBay is a great way to get rid of unwanted belongings while earning a little cash on the side, but it’s also a great way for scammers to take your money and leave you feeling burned. Selling safely on eBay means paying attention, following the rules and protecting yourself as much as possible. One last piece of advice as a reminder; if the deal looks too good to be true, it probably is!

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