Avoiding Online Selling Scams

Dec 17, 2021 Safety & Security

Selling scams are becoming increasingly popular. Here’s how to protect yourself from fraudsters if you’re buying or selling anything online.

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Direct buyer-to-seller websites like eBay, Facebook Marketplace, and Craigslist aren’t anything new, but their fraud presence is becoming more widespread. Because almost $1 in every $10 dollars we spend on retail is now spent online, it’s important to stay alert and recognize the warning signs.

When shopping or selling items online, pay attention to these red flags.

Be On The Lookout For

Bogus Websites

Scammers will often try to trick consumers into providing payment and personal information by duplicating a large brand’s website. If you look closely, you’ll notice the web address is off slightly, perhaps by a letter. Be especially vigilant if you arrived on the site after clicking on an online ad.


If you’re selling an item, it’s a good idea to have the purchaser pay with cash rather than a money order or check.

For example, a buyer reaches out to you saying they want to purchase a pair of shoes you’re selling. The price is $60, but they mail you a money order for $100 and say the amount was a mistake. They ask you to deposit the money order to your bank account and send the additional $40 back. Once you do that, you’ve become a victim of fraud.

Even if the check or money order has posted, it could still bounce in a week or two after your financial institution investigates it more thoroughly. If you’ve already sent the money, you’ll be down the value of the shoes, $40, and the amount you might be charged for a returned check.

Buying & Not Receiving

This scam is a little simpler. If the pricing or listing for something seems too good to be true, or you’re paying for something you haven’t seen yet, be cautious about proceeding. The items or source might not be legitimate.

If you can, try to see the item in person before sending any money. This way you can at least confirm they have the item in their possession and it’s in good condition.

Have You Been Scammed?

First, contact your financial institution to see if their fraud department can assist you and place the proper holds and precautions on your account. You can also file a report with the Internet Crime Complaint Center and through the FBI Tips and Public Leads online form.

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Life Guidance for:

Safety & Security

Keeping your personal and account information safe can be challenging. Use our tools and tips to help protect yourself from fraud and identity theft.

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