Facebook Marketplace is the next best thing to Craigslist. However, it’s not bulletproof. Facebook Marketplace can be a great place to resell your old goods, but it can also lead to unfortunate scams. You’ve seen them before, like ads for items that seem too good to be true. If you see an ad for a brand new phone or Louis Vuitton bag at a fraction of the price, it’s probably a scam. The number one rule in retail is that nothing is ever free. Scammers are out there waiting for you to take the bait so they can steal hard-earned money. To prevent you from becoming a victim of a scam, read the article below for some of the most common Facebook Marketplace shams.
Communication and Buying Outside The Platform
You should be wary of buyers and sellers that insist on communicating and sending or receiving payments outside of Facebook’s official channels. Biscoff, the privacy advocate at Comparitech, mentions, “Scammers often want to get your money in a way that is irretrievable, like through wire transfers or Venmo payments”.
When buying items through Facebook Marketplace, you may end up not receiving the item or any other variation of it. Chris Hauk, a consumer privacy expert at Pixel Privacy, advises using filters and meeting sellers in public locations that are well-lit, that way you can examine the product before paying for anything. If an item is purchased online with these precautions taken like meeting in public places as opposed to mailing them (which doesn’t provide tracking), then requesting shipping information for those purchases using PayPal or Facebook Checkout will help protect your purchase from fraudulence.
Facebook Marketplace is full of counterfeit and pirated items with prices that seem too good to be true. “You know the old adage, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is,” Hauk says. It’s not just enough to do research on the price beforehand, also check out a seller’s profile for negative reviews and avoid newly created accounts with no reviews at all when purchasing an item from Facebook Marketplace. You should also ask for multiple photos and videos before making any purchases in order to ensure you’re getting what you paid for.
Over Paying A Seller
You might be thinking that this doesn’t really affect sellers, but you’d be wrong. Unfortunately, fraudsters can scam them too. If someone pays with counterfeit funds for an item and then asks for a partial refund, the victim will return the overage amount to them only to find that it never gets added back into their account which means they end up paying all of it while the criminal pockets all of it. Chris Hauk, the consumer privacy expert at Pixel Privacy, advises using Facebook-approved channels to protect yourself from these scams on Facebook Marketplace.
Advance Payment Requests
According to Matthew Paxton, the founder of tech and gaming website Hypernia.com says you should never agree to pay for an item before receiving it. Known as a “reservation” or “pay-in-advance scheme,” this is one of the easiest ways to get scammed. A fraudster may tell you that the item is popular and ask you to deposit money in order to secure your spot. Odds are, there will be no product delivered and then they will disappear with your stolen money. In contrast, Matthew advises exchanging both items at once when making a purchase, preferably at a public location where people can see what’s happening (like a well-lit place). When meeting with sellers nearby on Facebook, they say bringing someone else along would make more sense safety-wise.
Fake Rental Listings
This is a heads up for all house hunters that not all listings of apartments and homes on Facebook Marketplace are legitimate. There have been various scams people have encountered, such as fake or misleading pictures used in ads, bait-and-switch rental prices that charge illegal fees for background checks, and even posting rentals owned by other people. Don’t fill out an application or transfer money until you have physically seen the ins and outs of the property in person and confirmed its availability.
What to Do If You’ve Been Scammed
If you think you’ve been scammed on Facebook Marketplace, immediately report it to Facebook and block the scammer. To do this, click on the Marketplace icon in the left-hand corner of your screen, find the listing from the seller that you want to report and then click on their name. From there, select “Report Seller” followed by adding any additional instructions given by an alert box that pops up. You can also let the Federal Trade Commission or Internet Crime Complaint Center know if money has been lost.