eBay has opened up a wonderful new world for online shopping: a marketplace for previously owned or inexpensive items, where a mutual benefit exists between buyer and seller. Unfortunately, this wonderful online world also means new opportunities for scammers to take advantage and trick people out of money. Since you are essentially buying products from strangers online, it can be difficult to spot a scam until it’s too late.
Although it can be difficult to spot an eBay scam, we can still take precautions by learning what scams are out there, and how to protect ourselves from falling for them. Here we’ll discuss the most common eBay scams, and how to avoid falling for them.
The Empty Box Scam
This eBay scam is one of the oldest tricks in the book. The way it works is that the buyer will receive the item, and then claim that the box was empty. The buyer will then log an “item not as discussed” ticket with eBay, and the seller has to accept the return and provide a refund. Meanwhile, the buyer has kept the item, and returned an empty box to make it seem like the item was never received.
The best way to avoid falling for a scam like this is to document everything as the seller. Be careful to take pictures or videos of your item before sending it off to the buyer, and to take pictures of the packaging and courier information. This way, you can provide evidence to eBay as proof that you did not send the buyer an empty box.
An Alternative Payment Method Scam
Shopping online can come with a certain element of risk with regards to making payments. Since shopping on eBay means you aren’t buying from a reputable brand but rather from the seller directly, you might not know where your money is going. Although there is financial protection when using a credit or debit card on the platform itself, or using online payment methods such as PayPal, if a seller is trying to scam you then they will suggest using an alternative payment method that doesn’t offer any protection.
To avoid falling for a scam like this, it is always best to avoid any other payment methods that don’t provide financial protection, like crypto currencies or cash checks. Stick to payment methods you know; in case you want to receive a refund for the item you bought.
eBay Photo Scam
This is an incredibly devious eBay scam that can leave you with an extreme case of buyer’s remorse. The way the scam works is that the seller will post a photo of a good quality item at an unusually low rate. Everything appears to be normal until the buyer receives their package and finds that they’ve actually ordered the photograph itself, a box with no item inside, or an accessory that usually comes with the item. When you go back to look at the order history, you will find the fine print to say something like “photo of item only” or “item sold separately.”
Sadly, as a buyer who has agreed to the terms, there is no one to blame but yourself and no way of getting a refund. It’s always a good idea to read the description of the product in full, at least twice, before making the purchase.
The Pick-Up Scam
This common eBay scam is easy to fall for and can be difficult to avoid if you want to trust your buyer. The way the scam works is that the buyer will pay for their item, and then ask if they can collect it from you instead of having you deliver it to them. Once they’ve collected it, they will file a complaint that they never received their item, and since you won’t have any proof that you sent it to them, you will have to refund their purchase.
The best way to avoid this kind of scam is to look out for typical reasons a buyer would ever make a request like this, such as “needed urgently for a gift” or “I don’t trust the postal system.” Be sure to document all communications and interactions, and always push to deliver the items where possible.
Tips For Staying Safe On eBay
Using third party seller websites such as eBay is a great way to find a good deal, or to find a buyer for your previously used items. You don’t need to be fearful of using it, as long as you stay up-to-date with the most common eBay scams.
Here are some general tips for staying safe on eBay:
- Don’t be too trusting. If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
- Read everything, twice.
- Do some research on the seller before making a purchase.
- Check the fine print.
- Document everything. Save all communications and delivery information.
- Make sure your product listing is accurate.
For more tips like this, keep checking our blog for the latest updates on online scams.