How to Avoid Online Fraud: Part Three of Three
We hope you’ve enjoyed our look at various online fraud techniques used by the unscrupulous. You can find the previous two entries here and here. Our final post will dive into one of the biggest hubs for rip-offs and scams online, eBay. Since its inception, people have taken advantage of trusting buyers on eBay and other auction sites. We’re going to highlight some of the sure signs of potential eBay fraud and how to dodge it.
Most importantly, if it looks fishy, avoid it! This one is as simple as it sounds. Found a new MacBook Air for $20? That’s an invitation for a headache. Sure, you can find deals on eBay, but deals of the millennium are likely scams.
Also, be on the lookout for people selling you the BOX for a MacBook or similar high-ticket items. These listings look and sound legitimate, but in tiny text the scammers have written, “This listing is for the box of a MacBook Air only.”
You’ll also need to do your homework on the product for which you’re shopping. If you know the in’s and out’s and exact specifications of the product you’re in the market for, you’re much more likely to recognize the auction you’re looking at is fake. The more expensive the item, the more homework you should do. Don’t be afraid to ask the seller detailed questions, a legitimate seller will have no problem answering these quickly. But, a scammer who doesn’t have the product on hand will struggle. For example, on what side of the laptop do you plug in the charger?
After you identify some auctions to bid in, thoroughly look at the seller’s feedback history. Don’t just glance at their overall feedback score and call it a day. Really start digging! Scam artists typically sell a few legitimate products initially to get some quick good reviews before they begin their scheme. Pin-point this by seeing how long the account has been active and how recent the reviews are. Of course, this is not a definite indication of a potential scam, but it’s a start. It should go without saying that any seller with many negative reviews should be avoided.
You’ll also want to get in touch with the seller. Placing a bid will allow you to look at the seller’s contact information. If they’ve listed their phone number, that’s your best bet. Email is good, too. Ask them questions about the product, and anything else you’d want to know. If a seller doesn’t have any contact information listed, that’s a big red flag.
When it comes time to pay for your winning bid, use a trusted payment method. PayPal is virtually the only payment method allowed on eBay, but other auction sites still offer additional options. No matter what method you end up using to transfer funds, always use your credit card. Paying by debit card or check offers little protection if your money disappears into the night. Credit card companies have a long history of standing up for their customers in fraud cases.
Most importantly, use your common sense when evaluating auctions on eBay. Most web savvy users can spot a scam from a mile away. Use your head when shopping online, not just eBay. It’s your money – protect it. You should also consider investing in a password manager, that will help keep your login information safe from hackers. If you’d like to help put a stop to these types of attacks, consider taking some cyber security training classes!
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as always, be safe Online
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