Facebook Marketplace, is an online shopping community where you can buy and sell anything from cars to furniture to even rent or sell houses. It currently has over one billion monthly active users worldwide, unfortunately, not all of them are honest or trustworthy. These are the 9 most common Facebook marketplace scams to look out for and how to protect yourself.
1. Sending the Item Before Payment is Received
In this instance the prospective buyer will produce a fake receipt and will ask for the merchandise to be sent right away. To protect yourself, whenever you are selling any merchandise it is recommended to use Venmo, PayPal or any other payment system where you can verify that the funds are in your account.
2. A Deal That is Too Good to Be True
Here you will see an item that is at a fraction of the price, the item is probably counterfeit. To protect yourself you can ask to see multiple photos, a live video or the original sales receipt before agreeing to buy.
3. Immediate Interest
In this case the buyer wants you to send a text to their phone to arrange an immediate pickup of the item. That is an attempt to get your phone number so the scammer can register quickly for a google voice number which will trigger a verification code sent to your phone. The scammer then asks for the code, just to make sure you’re a real person, in reality that code will unlock the google voice number for them which they then can use to perpetuate more scams, including stealing your identity. The best way to avoid this is to not communicate with anyone outside of the marketplace app.
4. A Fake Rental Property
You see a house or apartment for rent and it is just what you are looking for. However, do not send any deposit until you, or someone you trust has had a chance to tour the place and make sure its actually available and as advertised. Scammers will advertise properties that aren’t even for rent, they’ll take your payment and then they’ll vanish; make sure you are able to go tour the place in person.
5. A Broken Item
The gaming system you just bought doesn’t work even though the listing you saw said it was barely used. You met the seller in a local parking lot and handed the money over without plugging it in and now you’ll never find that seller on Facebook again. Anytime you are buying electronics or other items that may not work, it is best to test them or try to turn them on before you hand over the payment.
6. The Bait and Switch
In this scenario it is advertising one item and then seeking to substitute it for another, a classic bait and switch. You see an item you’ve been searching for and then the seller tells you it’s not available but offers another, more expensive item in it’s place. Don’t be afraid to walk away from a deal if it’s not what you want.
Say the buyer and seller agree on a $20 sales price, but the buyer pays $50 and tells the seller it was an error and asks for the $30 back. That’s not a problem until the bank catches up with you. The card the buyer used to pay with could’ve been stolen or a check cashed was counterfeit. You’re now out the original payment, plus the original payment you returned. It’s best practice to just decline any overpayment and ask to buyer to resend the payment in the correct amount.
If you an offer for something free or a drawing for an item, skip it! It is likely a phishing scheme, you will hit a link to enter the drawing and then malware or a virus could be downloaded to access your confidential information. Do not click random links on unfamiliar sites.
9. The Lost Package
According to Facebook, a marketplace user can claim an item purchased was never received, when it actually was or that the item was shipped to you when it wasn’t. In either case, that person will be seeking a refund from the honest person in the transaction; you! Make sure you have tracking information for any shipments involved to help fend off that scam.
We also recognize that this is not an all encompassing list of potential scams on Facebook Marketplace, as well as the fact that scammers are changing and sophisticating their tactics every day. This is just a list of the 9 most common scams we see today and how to prevent yourself from becoming the latest victim.
For more information and tips to keeping you safe from online scams, check out our podcast.