It’s reported that in the second of 2021, eBay had 159 million users worldwide. That’s a slight decline in users from the previous year when the company said 161 million regular users. With such a large number of users, even if just one percent of them were scammers, that’s about 1.6 million scam accounts alone.
Many of us check out online auctions to purchase hard-to-find items or save money on a purchase. Whether it’s a car in another part of the country or to buy a video game that is difficult to locate.
Purchasers are often comforted by Ebay’s seller guarantee. The company essentially promises to return the purchaser’s money if they have an issue with the item they’ve bought from the auction site.
Stephanie Garland of the Better Business Bureau in Springfield says that there are red flags to watch out for regardless of what you’re bidding on or what site or app you’re using.
“Look at the HTTP address in the upper left-hand corner of the address; if it has that “S,” that’s great; that means secure. It should also show one of those little locks that shows that it’s closed. If it does not that “S” it means it’s unsecure and Better Business Bureau would advise for you to get off that website.”
If you’re considering bidding on a big-ticket item that could be worth 1,000’s of dollars, do as much research as you can before you make that bid because it could be difficult to retract that bid if you later regret that bid.
If the seller provides the VIN of the car, run a VIN lookup online to find information about the vehicle. Make sure that the information on the lookup matches the information that the seller is providing about the car.
If it doesn’t, it’s very likely the auction or the vehicle, or both are a scam, and you should consider notifying the auction site about the listing.
Stephanie at the BBB says that she’s spoken with auction website fraud victims who report that once the purchase is complete, they disappear from the website and with your money.
“Unfortunately, what happens is the auctioneer disappears, and you can’t contact them. So be very cautious and understand how auction sites work and find out how payments are made.”
Perhaps the most critical aspect of online auctions is the payment of an item. Before even bidding on the item, make sure that you understand that if you win the auction, how it should be paid. It’s common for auctioneers of large ticket items to request a deposit when you initially bid on the item and require a cashier’s check for the remainder of the balance.
Auctioneers request cashier’s checks as a way around paying fees that eBay and Paypal charge using their services which is usually around 10% for high amounts.
Stephanie warns you to be careful with your information, just like you wouldn’t leave your wallet in your car with the windows rolled down, and the doors unlocked, be careful who you share and what kind of information you share with retailers online.
“Be careful with your personal information and make sure that you’re trusting a website, company, or auctioneer before you give any information. You should not be giving out your social security number or your driver’s license, your Medicare number, or your Medicaid number on this website.”