The Five Don’ts of Facebook Marketplace

Facebook’s Marketplace feature has been around for over five years and has become a relatively important part of Facebook. Users often use the Facebook Marketplace to sell products, get rid of stuff and purchase everything from antiques to vehicles. Sadly, the online marketplace has also become an attractive ground for scammers. Facebook is not immune to scammers, so we see daily reports of people being scammed on the platform. Here’s a short list of suggestions on how to avoid becoming a victim when using Facebook’s Marketplace feature.

Don’t pay money outside Facebook or PayPal

One of the online shoppers’ most common mistakes is wiring uninsured funds to a third party. If a seller pressures you to wire money or use Zelle to send cash instead of accepting a credit card payment, you must really be sure the request is genuine. It is common for buyers to be asked to send money for an item or an accommodation only later to realize that the product was never dispatched or the rental space does not exist. When shopping online, it is a good idea to use a credit card as it comes with a protection plan.

Don’t use the ‘friends or family’ option

You may feel tempted to use the friends and family option if you check out with PayPal, as this type of transaction often has fewer fees. However, if you are buying from someone other than your real friend or a family member, you may get scammed. Often sellers insist on receiving the money to avoid paying the fees but then disappear after a buyer transfers the sum. Those types of payments are not protected, and the feature should not be abused even if it looks cheaper at first glance. Instead of saving, you end up losing more in the long run.

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Don’t share your phone number

Scammers can commit fraud if you provide them with your phone number. A simple Google search often reveals your phone name and physical address. Finding out the phone would complete the list of almost everything necessary for a bad actor to start pretending it is you and commit fraud. If a buyer or a seller ever asks you for a verification code, you are likely being scammed as the cybercriminal is probably setting up a Google voice number and want you to approve the request.

Don’t accept overpayments

If someone sends you more money than you are supposed to receive, just decline the payment and ask the buyer to submit a new correct one. If you fail to reject and decide to issue a refund to the buyer instead, the bad actor would still get money out of the transaction even if the fraudster was using a stolen credit card. Making sure that the price is as agreed and receiving the correct payment is crucial.

Don’t meet with the seller/buyer

We know this is sometimes hard to achieve but try to avoid meeting with the opposite party. Meeting in person brings many new things that can go wrong, so a physical meeting must be your last resort. If you meet in person, do not share your home address, and do not meet the person in a non-crowded area. Instead, pick a well-known public place and arrange to meet there. Well-lit public spaces are often under surveillance, and a scammer would likely not strike if many people were around. Make sure to inspect the item very well before leaving.

Facebook Marketplace is similar to real-life marketplaces, eBay, and Craig’s List. Be cautious when doing transactions you don’t do very often. Generally, as long as you don’t transfer money outside Facebook, you are covered, as both credit card and Facebook payments are insured. However, even if getting scammed does not cost you anything, the time you would lose making the claims and communicating with the scammer would be a waste. If during a transaction you think sometimes is fishy, it probably is, so never be hesitated to back out of a deal if not fully satisfied along the way.

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