Tips to avoid online auction fraud

Tips to avoid online auction fraud

The convenience of online shopping has eliminated the petrol and time required to get into a car and drive to a store to purchase necessary items, including everything from pet supplies to high end electronics. The added layer of convenience comes when normally expensive store goods are not only cheaper (because of the reduced overheads of an online store), but often their price is determined by the strength of competition when bidders participate in an online auction. Whether you’re looking for the best accommodation Sandton has on offer, a selection of pets’ toys, or the latest tech gadgets, online shopping could serve your purpose well. If you get the hang of online auctions, you can pick up some real bargains… but you have to know how online auctions work and only deal with reputable sellers.

Here are some tips to avoid being scammed online:

Do your homework

If you’re new to a retail or auction website, do a bit of Googling to find out what experiences other users have had of the site you’re interested in buying from. Couple the name of the site with keywords like “scam” or “fraud” and be objective about the information you discover. Also, if anything feels dodgy about the site, don’t throw your money at it.

Know thy auctioneer

Many people make a living off selling goods online. It’s not in their interests to defraud their customers and develop a bad reputation, so they rely on sterling online reviews to keep their reputation. In order to get good online reviews, they need to deliver good service. If you’re using websites like Amazon, Craigslist, or eBay, or local sites like Bid or Buy, Gumtree or OLX, get to know the user you’re buying from, Google them, and take seriously the information you discover.

Get in touch

Make contact with the seller – get a reliable telephone number from them and make sure they’re within your jurisdiction or country. It’s difficult to trace a person who’s made off with your money internationally.

Don’t part with personal details

Part of the convenience of online shopping comes with the fact that you don’t have to sign and mail a cheque to the seller. A simple entry of credit card details or an EFT can do the trick, confirm the sale, and ensure that you get your goods. Or can it? Be very careful of which details you share online. Keep your ID number to yourself, and only use your credit card on secure websites. When making online purchases, always check your credit card statements to ensure no one is using your credit card details in an unauthorised capacity.

Don’t fall for deals that sound too good to be true, because the chances are that someone else is going to benefit from them and it won’t be you. Stay safe online!

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