Audio Sources - Full Text Articles

10 common Facebook Marketplace scams, and how to avoid and report them

facebookFacebook Marketplace scams can manifest in a variety of ways.

Reuters/Dado Ruvic

  • If you are buying or selling items on Facebook Messenger, beware of scammers.
  • Completing transactions locally is always safer, but if you are mailing an item, use a tracking number and don’t send the product until you receive payment.
  • Here are 10 of the most common Facebook Messenger scams and how to avoid and report them.

While Craigslist and eBay are still phenomenally popular, there’s a relatively new online swap meet on the internet. Facebook Marketplace has recently become a go-to destination for people to buy and sell personal goods, in large part because Facebook doesn’t charge any sort of fee for the service.

Common Facebook Marketplace scams and how to avoid them

Unfortunately, Marketplace’s popularity also makes it an attractive destination for scams. Thankfully, if you know what to look for, scammers aren’t hard to detect. Arm yourself with knowledge about the most common signs of Facebook Marketplace scams so you can buy and sell safely. 

Facebook Marketplace in Chrome.Facebook Marketplace is an extremely popular site to buy and sell goods.

Dave Johnson/Insider

You’re asked to send the item before you receive payment

If you’re the seller, the absolute first rule of any online transaction is not to send the item before you receive payment. Scammers often concoct convoluted rationales, but don’t get bogged down in dramatic storytelling or complicated backstories — treat this like a simple transaction. When you have money in hand, you release the product for sale. 

If it’s too good to be true, it probably is

One of the cardinal rules of any online transaction is that if a deal sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is. Whether it’s non-working electronics or counterfeit designer clothing, beware of anything that’s for sale for a fraction of the proper retail price. The safest way to ensure you’re not being ripped off is to pick up the item locally, in person, and inspect it carefully before paying.

Test electronics before paying

While you can make a successful purchase by having an item shipped to you, there’s some risk in that approach. Especially if you’re buying something electronic, it’s a good idea to complete the transaction in person, so you can verify that the item actually works. Turn on the phone, tablet, laptop, game console, or other gadget and make sure it holds a charge and you can successfully boot it all the way up. 

Never refund an overpayment

This scam is as old as the hills: Someone sends you an overpayment — usually in the form of a check — and, for some convoluted reason, asks you to refund the overage. If you do this, you’ll find that the check will eventually bounce. You’ll have lost the item you’re selling, sent them some of your own money, and to add insult to multiple injuries, you’re liable to your bank for the bounced check fee. Never accept an overpayment; it’s 100% guaranteed to be a scam. 

Never send back codes texted to your phone

This insidious scam starts when the other party suggests moving the conversation from Marketplace to text messaging. Soon thereafter, he or she will say that in order to “prove you’re real,” you’ll be texted a code. Send the code to the other person, and you can proceed with the sale. Danger! This code can be any number of things, such as a two-factor authorization code that’ll let the other party take over one of your own accounts. Or it might be the authorization code to set up a new Google Voice number, which the other party can use to run even more scams, except now their number will be linked to your phone, not theirs. There’s no reason why you’d ever have to “prove you’re real,” especially by forwarding some sort of code. 

Beware of fake rentals

Using Facebook Marketplace to rent an apartment? Be very careful — it’s easy to create a fake listing for a property that isn’t really for rent. Or just happens to be for rent, but not through this Marketplace seller. Always verify the veracity of a rental by contacting the property listing manager independently of Facebook before handing over any money or even completing a rental agreement, which is chock full of requests for personal and private information. 

Facebook Marketplace in Chrome.Be especially wary of rental property, and never give anyone money (or even complete a rental agreement) until you verify you’re talking to someone authorized to rent the property.

Dave Johnson/Insider

Don’t agree to a bait and switch

You’re trying to buy something on Facebook Marketplace, but when the seller gets back to you, it’s already sold. That’s okay, though, because they have a similar item instead. Sometimes that might be okay — it’s your call — but this is a classic bait and switch scheme designed to entice you to want one product but get you to later agree to a much less appealing one.  

Prevent claims of lost packages

If you ship an item to a buyer, do it smartly. Always use a tracking number so you can dispute any claims that a package has been lost or was never shipped. If you’re the buyer, be sure to insist on getting a tracking number so you can confirm the item is enroute and know when it arrives. 

Don’t trust a payment receipt provided by the buyer

If you’re selling an item, you should work with a common online payment system like PayPal, Venmo, or Zelle. And if you’re new to online payments, don’t accept the word of the buyer that they’ve made the payment (or an image of a receipt they’ve texted to you). The point of using a solution like PayPal is that you get an instant verification that payment has been received — you don’t need to take the word of the buyer.

Venmo on iOS.Use an app like Venmo or Paypal in which you can instantly see that you’ve been paid, and don’t give away your item until you can confirm the sale for yourself.

Dave Johnson/Insider

Giveaways are often phishing scams

Free is always great, right? Often, people who are moving, for example, are motivated to get rid of household stuff and are happy to offer many items for free. But beware of online giveaways in which you need to fill out a form to get something for free. These are fraught with danger because they are often little more than phishing schemes designed to harvest your personal and confidential information. 

How to report a Facebook Marketplace scam

If you think you are dealing with a scam on Facebook Messenger, you should stop communicating with the buyer or seller and report the incident to Facebook. 

If you encounter a listing on Facebook that you think is a scam, open the listing and then click the three-dot menu to the right of the Share button. In the dropdown, choose Report listing.

Facebook Marketplace in Chrome.You can report listings that appear to be scams.

Dave Johnson/Insider

If you have a listing and a potential buyer appears to be a scammer, you can also report that individual to Facebook. Open your listing and, in the list of Messages click the conversation with the potential scammer. Click the three dot menu and then click Report Buyer. Click Scam, and then follow the instructions to submit your scam report.

Read the original article on Business Insider