How to avoid getting scammed when buying or selling online
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With more shoppers turning to online sites, such as Gumtree and Ebay, we have seen a rise in individuals getting scammed when purchasing high-value goods, such as mobile phones, MacBooks and laptops.
Unfortunately, fraudsters are on the prowl, looking for shoppers to take advantage of. In Derbyshire, we have seen an increase of individuals transferring money for goods, only to find upon arrival when picking up their purchases, that the address given is a fake.
Similarly, individuals have come to collect an item from an innocent seller, stating they have transferred the funds for a purchase and that it might take a few hours to clear into their account - after the goods have been handed over, the money never arrives into the seller’s account.
Once funds have been transferred, there isn’t a lot the police can do - so it’s important to follow these six steps to help you avoid getting scammed when buying or selling online:
1. Always use a trusted resale website, that has seller protection in place.
Make sure when shopping online that you are using site with secure transactions, or you might not have consumer protection if it all goes wrong.
Unsecured sites can also leave computers vulnerable to attacks, which could give scammers access to your personal or financial information.
We recommend that you always read reviews to check the quality of a site or business.
2. Where possible, meet in person.
Many scammers will ask for money upfront, and plenty of people are happy to transfer their funds just based on a promise.
The scammer might ask for a wire transfer, a prepaid debit card, or a gift card before meeting, stating it is for a deposit.
A seller should be OK meeting first, before making the sale or transferring any money.
3. When selling, do no part with goods until the funds are physically in your account.
Do not trust emails notifying you of a payment, make sure you check your bank account and ensure that the funds have cleared.
Always log into your account through an official website or app - never through an email link.
4. Take a close look at the user profile.
Always check the buyer or seller's profile and read previous reviews - if they haven't sold anything before, be wary of making that transaction.
5. Always use Recorded or Special Delivery.
The best way of tracking your items is by using Recorded or Special Delivery, this also acts as a safety barrier with purchases as a signature is required when goods are received.
6. Listen to your instincts.
If a deal looks too good to be true, then it most likely is!
Scammers may try and make you feel like you need to act immediately or miss out on a good deal. High-pressure tactics can make a buyer act irrationally and hand over cash or potentially give out information they shouldn’t.
If things go wrong:
We all make mistakes and these days the scams can be incredibly convincing. If you think you, or someone you know has been a victim of online fraud:
- In the first instance, contact your bank to report that fraud has taken place and follow their advice.
- Report the offence to Action Fraud via their website: https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/.
If you need to seek further advice you can contact us, via one of the following methods:
- Facebook: send us a private message to /DerbyshireConstabulary
- Twitter: direct message our contact centre on @DerPolContact
- Website: complete the online contact form derbyshire.police.uk/Contact-Us.
- Phone: call us on 101.