Considering eBay’s position as the world’s number one ‘auction site’ it’s unsurprising that there are a great many unscrupulous sellers logging on and looking to rip-off honest consumers. However, while there’s no hard and fast rule for spotting these scammers, there are a number of clues to look out for that can help you separate the honest sellers from the hoaxes.
First of All – Feedback Isn’t Everything
Many eBay shoppers believe that solid positive feedback is a sure sign that the seller is genuine; however feedback can be artificially inflated. It’s also common practice for scammers to attempt to hack and use reputable accounts.
While it’s definitely worth looking into the seller’s feedback (be sure to look at the actual feedback rather than just their rating, and ensure their feedback isn’t only made-up of purchases) don’t convince yourself that positive feedback means without-doubt that the seller can be trusted.
Is the Price Too Good To Be True?
Scammers want to sell items quickly, and seeing as they don’t actually have any items to sell, or even the empty cardboard boxes to place them in, they don’t care if the ‘goods’ sell for far below their actual value.
Watch out for lies such as ‘this is the Xbox my cheating boyfriend left behind and I just want rid of it’. It might be true, but scammers are pretty sophisticated these days and will think up all sorts of lies to make their swindles appear more genuine.
How Is the Seller Contactable?
It’s common practice for unruly sellers to request buyers don’t contact them through the site itself, instead providing a phone number and/or email address. The presence of a phone number fools many consumers into believing the seller is definitely genuine; understandably since phone numbers are a reassuring factor to look out for on traditional ecommerce websites.
However, in the case of eBay, sham sellers prefer you to contact them by other means for two reasons: it removes the paper trail of evidence and makes it easier for them to request payment by card or indirectly through PayPal.
Is the Sale In Line with the Sellers Usual Transactions?
Does the seller usually sell low cost items like jewellery, yet out-of-the-blue has an abundance of Xbox’s for sale? Unusual changes in the seller’s standard habits are a strong signal that the account has been hacked.
Is The Listing Detailed and Well Thought-Out?
While some scammers may put the effort into ensuring the listing looks professional, many just want a quick route to some fast cash and won’t bother. Instead, they’re more likely to list the item, a brief description and an image taken from elsewhere.
Look for comprehensive descriptions complete with information on shipping and packaging and high quality photographs.
Poor item descriptions combined with an oddly low cost are a sure sign something is not right.
Written by Amy Fowler on behalf of UK Packaging, suppliers of cardboard boxes and other packaging materials.