How to Buy Online Without Getting Scammed
Tips for Buying on Ebay and Other Sites
Internet auction - basics
- Get to know the rules and standards set by the site - they are in place to ensure
user safety. Read the safety advice provided by the on line auction site
before trading. Never step outside of these or outside of the site no matter
how enticing the deal. Fraudsters will try to trick you into doing this.
Like any popular activity you must ensure you know ‘the rules of the game’
because ‘A little knowledge is a dangerous thing’.
- When looking at an advertised item compare pricing. Beware of people
offering you a deal below the current bid or reserve price, especially if
they are contacting you direct. Remember ‘If an offer sounds too good to be
true it probably is’.
- Get to know the seller by looking at their selling history and the goods
they sale. Be extremely careful around the payment method used for persons
selling with little or no selling history.
- Don't get carried away in the excitement of winning an auction.
Fraudsters rely on you being over keen and off your guard. It is never too
late to ask questions of a seller to ensure that you are completely happy
with what you are about to pay for. Do not follow through if you think it is
a fraud, report the seller to the site.
- Finally, if your site offers ‘second chance’ bidding on an auction
verify that any notification of you qualifying for this ‘opportunity’
actually comes from the site and not from a fraudster impersonating them.
You can do this by carefully checking the address from which the e-mail is
sent or by contacting the site via its published website (Beware of using
any hyperlinks or numbers attached to such a ‘notification’ as these may
also be false).
- "Always ask yourself, have I won the item, or have they won their next
Internet auction – payment
- When a check is accepted for payment, please be aware that although your
bank or building society may after three days state that it has 'cleared',
this only means that the money has passed between the banks. You remain
liable if the check that you have paid into your account is forged or
stolen, this may not come to light until the check is received by the other
bank or the bank account holder queries a transaction on their account. This
may take longer than you anticipate. The money is then taken back from you
account so you lose not only the items that you have shipped to the 'Buyer'
but also the money that the buyer 'paid' for the goods.
- A common trick that fraudsters use is known as 'Criminal Cash Back'
where a seller accepts a check for an amount higher than the value of the
transaction, often to pay a 'shipping charge' to the buyers 'shipping
agent'. This is actually paid to another fraudster who receives 'clean'
money from you. You then find out at a later stage that although the check
paid to you has 'cleared', it is a stolen or forged check, and you must pay
the money back to your bank with no hope of getting the money back from the
bogus 'shipping agent'. See out pages on
Criminal Cashback pages for further information.
- Use an escrow service for any large transactions, of amounts of money
you cannot afford to use.
See this page for tips about
selecting and using an escrow service.
Internet auction – account security
- Protect your on line auction account details as you would your own bank
account, whether it be your actual log in details and password to your
auction account or your payment account. Do not become a victim of identity
theft by revealing your name or account details. By aware of phishing emails
that purport to come from the on line auction or payment site you are
registered with, asking you to update your account or re-enter your details
because your account has be suspended. To see two examples of a phishing
emails purporting to be sent by on line auction site Ebay, click on the link
example 1 and
There are a number of factors that will indicate this is a phishing attack.
In example 1 the following:
1. The email address, From: eBay Administration [email@example.com] whilst looking
like a genuine one from ebay is not correct as it reads
@ebayz.com instead of
2. Often these emails will contain links that sometimes take you to pages on the
genuine website to give it an appearance of being genuine. But they also can
take you to fake pages set up to represent the genuine website.
3. The link to up date your records
http://cgi1.ebay.com/aw-cgi/ebayISAPI.dll?Update, whilst looking
genuine will take you a fake website, in this case
http://johtnanx.com.phtemp.com/eb/. Always check the url shown in your
web browser bar.
- Always enter your on line auction or payment site through it’s proper
web address. Save this in your favorites. Never be tempted to enter it
through a link sent to you, especially in an email, as it might lead you to
a fake site and disclosure of your personal information. If your on line
auction or payment site provides a toolbar down load that will advise you
when you are on the genuine site, consider using this.
Tips to Protect Against Non-Delivery of Merchandise
- Make sure you are purchasing merchandise from a reputable source. As
with auction fraud, check the reputation
of the seller whenever possible, including the Better Business Bureau.
- Try to obtain a physical address rather than merely a post office box
and a phone number. Also call the seller to
see if the number is correct and working.
- Send them e-mail to see if they have an active e-mail address. Be cautious
of sellers who use free e-mail
services where a credit card wasn’t required to open the account.
- Investigate other websites regarding this person/company.
- Do not judge a person/company by their fancy website; thoroughly check the
- Be cautious when responding to special offers (especially through
- Be cautious when dealing with individuals/companies from outside your own
country. Remember the laws of
different countries might pose issues if a problem arises with your
- Inquire about returns and warranties on all items.
- The safest way to purchase items via the Internet is by credit card because
you can often dispute the charges if
something is wrong. Also, consider utilizing an escrow or alternate payment
service, after conducting thorough
research on the escrow service.
- Make sure the website is secure when you electronically send your credit