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Auction website scams to look out for

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The One Show Team | 13:17 UK time, Thursday, 15 October 2009

Dom Littlewood has been looking at staying safe while using auction websites.

Useful links

Dom mentioned PayPal, an online payments company.

See also:

Other scams to be aware of when using online auction sites

  • Shill Bidding. This is bidding done to artificially increase the item's value, for example getting friends, family or colleagues to bid on your item. This is illegal and has led to prosecutions.
  • Postage Inflation. Goods are sold cheaply but the cost of postage is extortionate. By changing the settings on your eBay page you can see a postage cost column. It's worth avoiding sellers who don't advertise the cost of postage.
  • Fakes / Counterfeits. It's worth remembering that sellers' perceptions of legitimacy vary from country to country. There is a market for fake goods because some people are willing to buy them.
  • Second Chance Offer. This happens when the person who comes second in an auction is contacted by email from the 'seller' who informs them that the first placed bidder has pulled out, and offers the product to the victim. Experienced sellers often state on their page that 'no second offers are made' and that bidders should report any offers received to eBay.
  • Lost in the Post. If your item doesn't arrive, don't necessarily believe the sellers claim that it must be lost in the post as this is increasingly rare. One option is to insist goods be sent by recorded delivery. Watch out for the same item appearing on the site again soon after.
  • Chargebacks. Fraudulent buyers request a refund from their card company claiming the goods never arrived, were not what they ordered, or that they didn't authorise the transaction. The payment made into your PayPal account is then reversed - leaving you out of pocket and without your goods if you've already posted them. Insist on sending goods by recorded delivery to protect yourself as a seller.
  • Feedback Scams. There are programs available to give yourself amazing feedback on your selling. A little homework into this can prove how accurate the sellers feedback truly is.

More advice on internet shopping:

Safety advice from eBay

Consumer Direct Government website

FSA staying safe from scams advice


How do you stay safe online? Share your hints and tips here.

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