Thinking of selling knick-knacks or furniture on Facebook Marketplace? Heed these warnings before you do!
But first – some vital things to know… Per Reader’s Digest, more than one billion users buy and sell goods on Facebook Marketplace each month. Just as there are good people who shop, there are also fraudsters who prey on individuals. While most people assume it’s the buyers who can be taken advantage of, it may surprise you to learn that sellers are often the targets of swindlers!
Here are some seller tips to decrease your vulnerability!
- Avoid account-related scams. Always enable two-factor authentication, which requires account holders to verify new logins through secondary devices like smartphones that only the account holders can access. This can help block most fraudsters from logging into your account.
- Prevent odd payment scams. Do not allow buyers to pay you in gift cards or by other unconventional means. For safety, it’s best to research and accept payments through Facebook-approved methods, such as PayPal (not friends or family payment), Facebook Checkout, or via cash payments. Avoid using Venmo or taking checks as they may lack scam protection.
- Beware of code scams. This trick allows fraudsters to set up a number using your Google Voice account. The scammer asks for your phone number and says they will have a code sent to you to verify that you are a real person. Once they have your phone number, they can use it to set up a new Google Voice account using your phone number. The FTC features articles on this type of scam and offers steps to take if you fall victim.
- Watch out for overpayment scams. In one scheme, a buyer will use counterfeit funds to overpay the seller and then ask for a refund for the overpayment. The victim (seller) will return the amount overpaid, but unfortunately, that money never goes into the seller’s account.
- Guard your personal data. In this data scam, fraudulent buyers may ask for personal data for malicious purposes. For example, they may ask for your home address and work schedule to rob your home. Or they may want to perform identity theft. Never give out personal information (work schedules, home address, personal and bank accounts, etc.) that can put your identity or safety at risk. If the buyer is nosy or persistent, consider it a red flag that you should NOT do business with that person.
- Avoid meeting scams. For your safety, do not allow buyers to know your address, come to your home, or enter your home. Arrange for sales to take place in a non-isolated public area. And never meet at night. Some police stations offer a secure location of their parking lot for sale interactions, and that is worthy of investigation. Also, never go alone. Ask a trusted friend or family member to accompany you, and do not bring valuables with you.
- Prevent platform change scams. In this case, buyers will attempt to move their discussions and transactions from Facebook to other platforms with less accountability. Per ProPublica, this is a red flag of a scam. There is no reason to change platforms.
- Look out for illegitimate buyer scams. Facebook Marketplace lets you see what people in the community are selling, and it also allows you to find the public profile of the buyer. Seeing the profile of someone you are selling something to, and establishing that they are likely a legit buyer, can provide some peace of mind to sellers. Mashable explains that Facebook has made it a bit harder to do but taking a few added steps to see the buyer’s profile is well worth the time.
- Watch out for pay later scams. Never mail goods or let buyers take possession of items before they have legitimately paid for them. When buyers want to have the goods first before paying, it is often difficult to get payment.
Selling on Facebook Marketplace offers a great way to unload things you no longer want, use, or need – from art to video games. Despite the company’s efforts to dissuade cons, there is still the possibility of people getting scammed, spammed, or cat-fished on any e-commerce platform. Also, it’s not just buyers who can get scammed. Thus, it’s vital for sellers to stay ahead of the game by getting educated on the latest scams to avoid becoming a victim. Should you fall victim to a scam, report it to Facebook immediately, whether you’re a buyer or seller. Also, contact the FTC to see what steps you are eligible to take to resolve the issue to heighten your safety and ensure your identity protection. Remember that the best defense is a good offense, meaning that being proactive instead of passive can give you the ultimate advantage over scammers.
FTC urges you to report scams to: ReportFraud.ftc.gov