Protect Your Wallet: Avoiding Facebook Marketplace Scams
What are Facebook marketplace scams?
Facebook Marketplace is a simple, famous, and convenient way to trade items. It is among the most prevalent peer-to-peer shopping platforms, with items ranging from furniture and clothing to weird items.
A Facebook scammer can steal your money or credentials through a variety of means. Modern cybercriminals will often take advantage of social engineering to swindle naive consumers into falling for scams. A scammer can fool someone into a false sense of security by preying on the victim’s desire for the best deal.
How do Facebook Marketplace Scams Operate?
Scammers have developed many ways for tricking Facebook Marketplace users, each of which runs differently. Generally, when someone tries to buy or trade for an item without paying, it results in a buyer’s scam. Seller scams take place when someone offers something for sale but fails to deliver the item as per their promise.
Identifying Facebook Marketplace Scams
How can you tell if someone is trying to scam you on Facebook Marketplace? You may be dealing with a scammer if you notice any of the following warning signs:
- A buyer or seller who has created relatively a new profile or avoids posting a Facebook profile photo.
- A price of an expensive item or a product on sale at a too-good-to-be-true.
- A buyer avoids using Paypal or Facebook Marketplace payment gateway instead convinces to pay with a gift card or to send you a prepaid shipping label.
- A buyer who “accidentally” happens to overpays for an item or wishes to make a quick payment.
- A seller or buyer asking for sensitive information such as your phone number or email address on the pretext to verify that you are not a scammer, or request you to interact with you on other social media platforms and telecommunications rather than using Facebook.
Types of Facebook Scams
You can avoid falling for Facebook Marketplace scams by following the red flags that our experts have laid down for you.
● Paying or communicating outside of Facebook
Buyers and sellers that prefer interacting or receiving money through other channels than Facebook’s established channels should be avoided. According to Biscoff, fraudsters usually aim to obtain your money permanently, such as through a wire transfer or a Venmo payment. In addition to various payment options, they may persuade victims to interact on the phone or communicate outside of Facebook, where their communications are not traceable. There is no assurance that you will get your money back if you use a different payment method because Facebook’s Buy Protection rules only apply to payments made through PayPal or Facebook Checkout. According to experts, sticking to established methods will safeguard you if something goes wrong.
● Mailing items
According to Chris Hauk, a consumer privacy specialist at Pixel Privacy, buyers pose the danger of not obtaining the things they paid for, either through non-delivery or by being provided something other than what they paid for. His recommendation is to limit your search to things that are available for local pickup by using Facebook Marketplace’s filters. Meet the seller in a popular, well-lit, and visible location so you can examine the item before paying. If an item is shipped by mail, Hauk recommends obtaining a shipping tracking number and paying via Facebook-supported payment methods such as PayPal or Facebook Checkout to safeguard your purchase.
● Selling counterfeit items
Don’t be tricked by a great deal on a designer purse or a limited edition of the gaming console. Facebook Marketplace is full of counterfeit or pirated items like this, where the price tags are strangely cheap. Hauk also states to always remember the old adage, “If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.” Apart from researching the average price of a product, Hauk advises investigating a seller’s profile for negative reviews and avoiding newly opened accounts with no comments at all. You should also ask for several photos and possibly a video of the item before purchasing it.
● Overpaying the seller
Sellers, believe it or not, can also be duped by con artists. In one popular strategy, a buyer may use counterfeit cash to pay the vendor more than the desired amount for the item, then claim an error and request a partial refund. The victim will repay the overage amount, but the initial payment never reaches the seller’s account, leaving the victim to pay the bill while the criminal walks away with the money. If you reject overpayments and demand that all payments be made through Facebook-approved channels, you can stop these Facebook Marketplace scams, claims Hauk.
● Requesting advance payments
According to Matthew Paxton, owner of the tech and gaming website Hypernia, you should never agree to pay for an item before getting it. Known as a “reservation” or “pay-in-advance” scheme, he also adds that this is one of the simplest ways to get scammed. A scammer may convince you that the item is a collector’s item and ask you for a deposit or advance payment for securing your spot. You will almost certainly never receive the goods, and the fraudster will vanish with your money. Paxton suggests transferring both the money and the goods at the same time, ideally in a well-lit public area. While you’re meeting a seller in person, Facebook encourages bringing another person or sharing your meeting plan with a friend or family member as an added precaution.
● Creating fake accounts
Investigate the seller’s profile before you purchase anything on Facebook Marketplace. Some scammers create fake Facebook accounts to deceive people into purchasing fake or nonexistent items and then disappear with the money. One of the important things to watch is the date that the Facebook account was opened. Burton Kelso, a tech expert at Integral, an on-site computer service, advises that recently added accounts should be a warning sign.
● Listing phony rentals
House seekers, take note: Not every apartment and home rental listing on Facebook Marketplace is valid. Sebastian Illing, the cofounder of Alpaca Technology, which filters through thousands of listings on Facebook, explains that they discovered that this is an area rife with fraudsters. They’ve seen a variety of apartment rental scams, including ads with phony or deceptive photographs, bait-and-switch rental costs, unlawful fees for background checks, and even displaying apartments held by other individuals. Unless you have personally inspected and confirmed the availability of the property, do not enter an application or transfer payments.
● Selling items that don’t work
In accordance with Kelso, one of the most common Facebook Marketplace scams is selling an item that doesn’t work. He also adds that this can happen, especially when purchasing computers or other tech devices. The vendor is aware that the item is broken but hopes that you will not inspect it before giving over your money. When purchasing products such as electronics, Kelso suggests turning them on and testing them to ensure that they operate correctly before paying.
● Advertising fake giveaways
Giveaways that appear too good to be true are most likely a Facebook Marketplace scam. According to Patrick Moore, co-founder of cryptocurrency portal CryptoWhat, bad actors post links to phony bitcoin giveaways on their accounts in the hopes that naive consumers will click on them. He also explains that scammers can use Facebook as a space for their advertising purposes because anyone can list something on the page without any verification process in place. By clicking on the link, users run the risk of installing malware on their computers, allowing hackers to access personal information such as email addresses and bank account credentials.
How to Protect Yourself
These are some precautions you may take to keep yourself safe from hackers.
- Be wary of anyone requesting or offering money. Tricksters have devised numerous plans to deplete your wallet. For example, they may imitate a relative in an emergency. Or ask for a gift card or fee in exchange for a loan or prize. If you believe you have engaged with a fraudster, ban him or her and notify Facebook at email@example.com.
- Protect your financial information. Be wary of texts or emails requesting account details, credit card data, wire transfers, or notifications of failed transactions. There is no need to send such information through SMS or to an insecure website.
- Do not open any attachments. They may be infected with malware. And you should never enter personal information into a form linked to an email. The sender may be able to trace the information you type.
- Check the URL again. Before clicking any link provided in the email or on the internet, try moving your mouse over it. This will show the full address, which can reveal signs of fraud. For example, A “.ru” on the end means the site was made in Russia; while a “.br” means Brazil.
Misspellings are another red flag for a bogus website. It’s recommended to avoid URLs that begin with “globallgrants.com.” Instead, use Google to find the firm and visit its website.
Don’t be under the false notion that a website starting with its URL “https” is authentic. Criminals know to use encryption, too.
- Change your password. Jenkins says that we’re all guilty of not altering our Facebook passwords frequently. Using a more secure password lessens the risk of someone hacking your account.” It hinders tricksters from using your profile to swindle others and does more than just shielding you from fraudsters.
- Turn on two-factor authentication. The two-factor authentication or the 2FA allows the user to make the account more secure. It prompts the users to enter a six-digit verification number sent to your phone to log in to a digital account. When you enable the setting, you must enter a password and another unique identifier to access your account from an untrusted device or place. This safeguards you in the event that a stranger obtains your password.
- Turn on automatic updates. This also applies to your desktop, smartphone, and tablet. Updating security software helps a great deal toward preventing infection.
Utilize security tools. Download and maintain an antivirus program updated to its latest version on your device. You may also utilize a website reputation rating tool, which is available as a browser plug-in, to alert you. Cybersecurity firms such as McAfee, Kaspersky, and Norton provide them. But remember that these tools aren’t unerring.
The Bottom Line
Irrespective of the security mechanisms in place, no data is ever completely safe on the internet. Large-scale hacking cases have made some customers cautious about making financial transactions using apps on their phones.
While such high-profile cases naturally make internet users nervous while trading on Facebook Marketplace, the truth remains that the most serious security hazard to your online information stems from your failure to safeguard your own devices. Using a password is a good idea since it protects your computer and mobile and keeps unauthorized people from accessing them and causing havoc. Installing a strong antivirus or anti-malware tool is critical as it helps in detecting dangers, including keystroke loggers that record keystrokes.