Here’s how to protect yourself from scams on FB Marketplace

April 2, 2024 - 6:46 PM
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hands on a smartphone via Pixabay
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Social media giant Facebook is one of the most popular platforms that Filipinos use for their online activities, which include buying and selling online.

The social networking giant lets its users purchase and sell products through the Facebook Marketplace, a feature that connects sellers and buyers through interactions and goods.

It also takes into consideration the user’s location to make the transaction easier for the two parties.

However, amid the plethora of legitimate sellers lie deceptive scammers waiting to prey on unsuspecting buyers.

EarthWeb online privacy expert Trevor Cooke said buyers can do the following to prevent themselves from falling for online scams and fake ads:

Don’t send money without verification

Before sending any deposits, buyers must first confirm the authenticity of the item, either by inspecting it in person or through a video call.

“Scammers often use the tactic of requesting deposits upfront without providing any proof of the item’s authenticity so that they can ghost you and walk away with the deposit,” Cooke said.

Review the seller’s profile thoroughly

Thoroughly reviewing a seller’s profile is crucial to identifying potential scams.

Buyers must pay attention to how active the seller is on the platform, since inactive or newly created accounts could indicate fraudulent activity.

They must also be wary of sellers with numerous suspicious or very similar listings, as it may suggest deceitful behavior.

Be suspicious of off-platform conversations

Taking conversation off the Facebook Marketplace may also be a tactic to exploit the user’s personal information.

“By communicating outside of the platform, you risk exposing yourself to identity theft or other fraudulent activities, especially if they ask for your phone number,” Cooke said.

“Also, be cautious of buyers who immediately ask for personal details, as they may be attempting to gather sensitive information for fraudulent purposes,” he added.

Prioritize safety in meetups

The privacy expert also recommends arranging a public place for meetups and going with a companion if they will meet the seller in person.

Cooke said that scammers may attempt to take advantage of isolated or private locations to carry out fraudulent activities.

Inspect items carefully before accepting

The expert also suggested thoroughly inspecting the parcel when accepting it in person to ensure that it meets their expectations and matches the online description.

Scammers may attempt to deceive buyers by misrepresenting the condition or quality of the items they’re selling.

Buyers must especially be careful if they’re purchasing electric products.

Cooke said they should insist on plugging it in or switching it on to check if the item works before handing over any payment.

Avoid unsecured transactions

Avoid paying through unsecured transactions or methods that lack buyer protection, such as gift cards.

Buyers should also refrain from stating they are paying a friend or family member on PayPal, as this removes their payment protection.

Scammers may pressure them into using unsecured payment methods to evade platform fees or prevent refunds.

“Accept only money directly deposited into your bank account as payment, as scammers may attempt to use fake receipts to deceive you,” Cooke advised.

Verify tracking numbers

Before finalizing any transactions, buyers must verify any tracking numbers provided by the seller on the delivery company’s official website.

Scammers may provide fake or invalid tracking numbers to deceive buyers into believing their parcels have already been shipped.

By independently confirming the tracking information, buyers can minimize the risk of falling for delivery scams.

Ship parcels with tracking for security

For sellers, Cooke said that they must always ship their items with tracking “to ensure transparency and security throughout the delivery process.”

“Scammers may claim that they never received the parcel to avoid fulfilling their end of the transaction. By shipping parcels with tracking, you can provide evidence of delivery and protect yourself from fraudulent claims of non-receipt,” he said.

Beware of overpayment scams

Cooke said fake buyers may overpay legitimate sellers and then request a refund, only to retract the initial payment later.

He told them to be cautious of the trick and to avoid refunding excess funds without verifying their legitimacy.

“By following these expert tips and staying informed about common scam tactics, you can navigate Facebook Marketplace with confidence and enjoy a secure shopping experience online,” the privacy expert said.

Cooke is the online privacy expert at EarthWeb, a money-saving coupon website for tech-savvy customers.