Buying or selling goods through online auctions is more popular than ever. Which are the best practices to follow for buyers and sellers for an online auction?
Buying or selling goods through online auctions is more popular than ever. Today, there are a number of different auctions sites available where sellers can post new and used items for sale.
Buyers often flock to these marketplaces, largely because auction prices tend to be quite low. Additionally, buying through online auctions is a great way to find unique items or collectibles that you simply can’t buy through traditional retail stores.
The vast majority of transactions that take place through these sites go off without a hitch. Occasionally, however, problems do occur.
There are instances where unscrupulous buyers or sellers try to take advantage of other people on the auction site.
By following a few simple online auction safety tips, you can ensure that you don’t fall victim to a scam.
A good place to start is by familiarizing yourself with some of the common risks including the following:
- Sellers sometimes try to scam buyers by failing to send out items after they have already been paid for. Buyers, on the other hand, sometimes take advantage of sellers by failing to pay for the item after the seller has already sent it to them or claiming that they never received the item in order to get a refund.
- Hackers or online thieves can take control of your account if they get access to your password. Not only can they use your account to make purchases but they can also steal your identity.
- Buyers or sellers can sometimes use the personal information that is exchanged during a sale to steal your identity. For instance, if you use a personal check to pay for an item, and unscrupulous seller may try to steal your identity based on the information printed on your check.
- Sellers sometimes may try to sell you a knockoff or copy rather than the actual item you are interested in purchasing.
- Phishing scams may try to get you to share your information by posing as the auction site or as your payment processor. In most cases, these scams are designed to try to gain access to your banking information or to your password so that the perpetrators can steal your identity.
Now that you have a better idea of all of the things that can go wrong when buying through an online auction, you can take steps to prepare yourself. A good place to start is by familiarizing yourself with how each auction site is set up. Before posting an item for sale or placing a bid, spend some time performing the following tasks:
- Try to get a sense of how the auction site works by watching several items. Pay particular attention to what happens at the end of the auction to see if there is a lot of last-minute bidding. You can then put auction software to work for you on bidding and selling.
- Additionally, find out what steps they take to help protect users in the event that something goes awry with a transaction. Make sure that you fully understand the site’s rules before buying or selling items through their platform.
- Find out what forms of payment the website recommends. In most cases, the best option is to use a service like PayPal rather than relying on other payment methods. Personal checks, wire transfers, money orders, cash, and credit or debit cards can be risky for both buyers and sellers. Services such as PayPal provide protection against problems that are commonly experienced online.
- Protect your identity when creating your profile. Avoid including personally identifiable information in your profile. Try to keep your screen name and user account as anonymous as possible.
- Choose your password carefully. The last thing that you want is for someone to be able to guess your password or to break it easily using software tools. Make sure your password is a minimum of 10 characters long. Include upper and lowercase letters along with symbols and numbers. Avoid including personal information such as your birthdate, age, or name in your password. Additionally, choose a different password for every site that you are on.
That way, even if hackers figure out your password on one site, they won’t be able to access your profiles on other sites.
Online auction – Before making a purchase or listing an item for sale, be sure to do careful research.
- Start by taking a closer look at the reputation of the seller or buyer. Typically, the best option is to buy from sellers who have been selling through the platform for a long period of time and who have good feedback from buyers. Make sure all the transactions are completed through the auction site. Don’t fall for the scam where a seller tries to offer you a lower price if you buy the item from them directly rather than buying through the auction site.
- Learn as much as you can about the item you are selling or buying. Find out how much the item is currently worth. Make sure that it is authentic and figure out what type of condition it is in. Buyers may want to consider saving a screenshot of the description so that they have proof that they can turn to if the item doesn’t live up to the seller’s promises.
Ali Qamar is a privacy and cyber security enthusiast, his work has been featured in many major tech and security blogs including InfosecInstitute, Hackread, ValueWalk, Intego, and SecurityAffairs to name a few. He runs SpyAdvice.com currently.
(Security Affairs – Online auction, identity theft)