Over the past few years increased activity in online sales has also attracted those elements interested in committing fraud. According to the FBI’s latest report of the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), approximately one in every four complaints involve online auction scams. The FBI recommends the following to help protect yourself from online fraud:
- Understand as much as possible about how the auction works, what your obligations are as a buyer, and what the seller’s obligations are before you bid.
- Find out what actions the website/company takes if a problem occurs and consider insuring the transaction and shipment.
- Learn as much as possible about the seller, especially if the only information you have is an e-mail address.
- Examine any online feedback about the seller.
- Determine what method of payment the seller is asking from the buyer and where he/she is asking to send payment. Avoid situations where wire transfer is the only accepted method.
- If possible, purchase items online using your credit card, because you can often dispute the charges if something goes wrong.
- If possible use a third party payment provider such as PayPal so that the seller does not have access to your credit card or banking information.
- Be cautious when dealing with sellers outside the United States. If a problem occurs with the auction transaction, it could be much more difficult to rectify.
- Ask the seller about when delivery can be expected and whether the merchandise is covered by a warranty or can be exchanged if there is a problem.
- Make sure there are no unexpected costs. Verify all shipping and handling fees.
- Do not give your social security number or driver’s license number to the seller.
- For big-ticket items, use a legitimate online escrow service that will hold the payment until you receive what you’ve ordered.
- If you receive an overpayment as a seller, don’t cash it but instead ask for the exact purchase price.
Using a vetted, secure and reliable company such as Caring Transitions Online Auctions can assure that both the buyer and seller benefit from legitimate inventory, bidding, sales, local pickup option or shipment of auctioned items.