eBay may have definite guidelines on spotting scams, but there are still those who manage to circumvent the system. These scammers can get really greedy so they tend to target items that can earn them plenty of money easily and quickly. Cars and laptops are hot commodities and there are always many buyers who would jump at a good bargain when they see one. This is exactly what the scammers are looking for and are more than willing to take advantage of. Buyers who may not be familiar or have not heard about the different scams proliferating on eBay will not think twice about buying these items, only that no item will ever reach their doorsteps.
As more and more people are creating eBay accounts each day, the site looks more attractive to scammers. There are currently over 200 million registered eBay users and the number keeps growing everyday. eBay is a fun place to shop, but it is not without risks. These risks can certainly be avoided if you are aware on how to counter them. Unlike a regular shop where you can check the item personally, the items on eBay can only be viewed through the Internet. Buyers depend on the ratings and reputation of the seller to make sure that the transaction is not fraudulent. Unfortunately, even seller's ratings and reputation can be manipulated. So, before you punch that "buy" button or bid on an item, there are some things worth keeping in mind to protect your purchase and financial information.
How to Spot a Car Scam on eBay
Buying cars on a bidding site is indeed a risky proposition. Fraudulent car sellers on eBay would usually ask for a 25% or 50% down payment for the item for any reason they can come up with. Unfortunately, there are buyers who fall for this trick. What's more bothersome is that unsecured payment methods are always used so that there's no way for the buyer to trace the seller or contact him after the money has been sent. Fake sellers usually convince their buyers that they will deliver the car once the advance payment has been made.
Of course, there will never be a car, ever.
It would only be too easy to post a picture of a car and pretend that it is the actual item to be won or purchased.
A scammer is skilled in a finding a photo of a car that looks authentic like he really owns it. The moment you give him the advance payment, he can freely walk away with it, especially if you used a payment method not recommended by eBay. When you find out that it is a big hoax, it would be too late and the scammer already has your money. You can bombard his account with countless negative feedbacks but the fact remains that you have been duped. The scammer, on the other hand, will just open another account and prey on unsuspecting members over and over again.
How to Spot a Laptop Scam
Another scam that is running rampant on eBay is the laptop scam. Many Internet users took to eBay to look for an affordable laptop unit. Those who haven't done their research before buying can fall victim to laptop scams. This scam is carried out by setting up a fake eBay account. Digital cameras and other expensive gadgets are also used in implementing this scam. To lure buyers, the scammer will place attractive sales pitch such as what an excellent buy the item would be and that the features are top of the line. He will also assure that the product is brand new, still with factory tag, free shipping, and most of all, cheap.
When a buyer purchases the item, he will be instructed to wait for the item to arrive within two to three business days. Because it is a scam, the package will never arrive and the buyer will not receive any tracking number because no item has ever been shipped. There are a few telltale signs that would indicate an account is bogus. First of all, you can see in the seller's history that he has just registered but already, he is selling an item with high value. Next, there is a discrepancy between his location and the product description. If his location says another country while claiming to ship the item via USPS, then clearly there is something wrong about it. Only those living in the US can use the USPS service.
Scammers usually avoid accepting payments via the preferred method on eBay, which is PayPal. They would demand payments through methods that are untraceable so that buyers cannot go after them. This could be in the form of money orders, check, and others. Scammers also tend to avoid indicating their actual location. Instead of stating their country, they will just place "international seller". When contacting a seller, buyers should be wary about him if the tone of his response does not match with the tone of his auction description.
How to Avoid Scams
Knowing how to spot and avoid scams can make your online shopping on eBay a great experience. If you want to get the best value for your money, you should make it a point to purchase from trusted sellers only. First, take a look at the seller's reputation. Take time to read all the feedbacks that he has received and the items that he has sold in the past. A fake seller would be selling the same item over and over again, only with different description.
Go through the item's description and make sure that nothing is out of the ordinary. Understand the seller's terms and the condition of the item. If you are unsure about anything, don't hesitate to ask the seller and always clarify if a warranty is available, especially with items such as laptops and cars. The payment method is also a strong indication of the authenticity of the account. The preferred payment method on eBay is PayPal because it offers sufficient buyer protection. A wire transfer or money order is almost always one hundred percent scam. When your gut instinct tells you that the seller is a scammer, stop communicating with him at once.