It’s the most wonderful time of the year for cyber security. Sites such as eBay and Gumtree are a great way of finding Christmas bargains; however, they also attract an unsavoury element. Despite the majority of sellers on these sites being legitimate, fraudsters use these sites to trick people out of their hard-earned cash. A common scam is to list items that are not actually for sale. The fraudsters steal their victim’s money and personal details and then do a runner. If you’re planning on shopping on one of these online auction sites, you should follow the below guidelines:
- Use a secure method of payment
Most sites will recommend using a reputable third party payment method such as PayPal. It’s never a good idea to transfer money directly to an individual. PayPal acts as a ‘middleman’, transferring the money without exposing your bank details to the recipient, hence further protecting you against identity fraud.
- Research the seller
Check out the user guides for the site, make sure you’re confident in how it works and what’s expected. Research the seller, view their feedback and reviews left by other customers. Read the terms and conditions carefully. Ask for more photos of an item if the seller only uses stock images from a website. This can be a sign that the seller does not actually have the item they are purporting to sell. See the first day of Christmas cyber safety tip
- Be wary when dealing with overseas sellers
Be cautious when dealing with sellers based in other countries, check the item location and the place the seller has requested the money be sent to match. If these locations do not match this could be an indication of a scam. PO Boxes can also be a red flag. If you have any concerns contact the seller first.
- Read the sellers delivery and returns policy
As well as a site-wide policy, sellers often have their own individual policies regarding returns, refunds, and delivery. Make sure to read the policy before buying anything. Details hidden in these policies can sometimes be a way of tricking you into paying more.
- Exercise caution when meeting in person
At times it may be necessary to meet up with the seller in person. If this is the case, arrange to view the product before you commit to buy. Ensure that there is an actual product for sale and do not take cash with you the first time you meet. Arrange to meet in an open, public place. Take someone with you or at least make someone aware of where you are going.
Follow the standard staying safe online tips, use an anti-virus security software, keep your passwords secure, be wary of clicking links within emails and most importantly- if it looks too good to be true, it usually is!