10 Tips to Avoid Scams On Facebook Marketplace

If you are looking to do a spring cleaning or looking to make a little extra cash, Facebook marketplace can be a great place to sell. You can get rid of heavier and bulkier items without having to worry about shipping them. It is also a great place to buy locally because there are often great deals. You can even arrange to meet with a seller to get it on the same day. However, scams on Facebook marketplace do exist.

Scammers, crooks, shady people, or whatever you call them have been around before and since the internet. It is important for you to know how to protect yourself against scams when selling or buying on Facebook marketplace. Here are 10 tips to know what to look for when you are buying or selling. These tips will help you avoid common scams on Facebook marketplace.

1. Do Your Research 

Before we plan to buy or sell to someone on Facebook marketplace, we always check their profiles. We also check their marketplace rating if they have any. Usually, if there is no picture of a person but it is of some other object like a car, we tend to be wary. Check to see if the profile is an actual account and whether they have friends on their page.

If you are buying, check their Commerce Profiles to see what other items that they have listings of. It is normally a good sign if they have a positive marketplace rating on their profile. 

We also research the item on other online marketplaces like eBay, Amazon, or other retailers. If a deal is too good to be true, be cautious. This is especially true when it comes to expensive electronics or luxury goods. We would ask why they are selling the item. If something seems fishy, ask if they can provide a purchase receipt to make sure the item was not stolen. It could be a red flag if they say it was a gift.

2. Ask For More Pictures

If you are looking to buy a post that has blurry pictures or incomplete information, ask the seller for additional pictures. A legitimate seller who wants to get rid of the item would be able to provide any other information you need. Some people are not internet-savvy and may not have optimized their listing. However, they should be able to send additional information and pictures on Facebook messenger if asked. 

If you are selling, it is better for a potential buyer to ask questions about the item. If you listed an expensive electronic for several hundred dollars, it is normal for someone to ask more questions. It is normal for them to even ask for an additional discount. 

3. Meet At A Public Place

If you can help it, avoid meeting at your home, especially if you will be continuing to live there. If you are buying, do not just walk into a stranger’s home alone. Look for a nearby coffee shop or store where there are plenty of other people.

If a place has security cameras outside, that is even better. If there is any police station around, that would be the ideal spot. While this may not be practical for big pieces of furniture, use your best judgment. Bring other people with you in that case.

4. Meet During the Day

When it comes to meeting strangers online, it is never too much to proceed with caution. Avoid meeting in dark places or at night. It is best to meet where there is nothing to hide. You will be able to see the person’s car, the license plate, their face even with a mask on. You can note things like what they are wearing at the time if an issue occurs.

5. Bring a Friend

There is strength in numbers. It is good to have another pair of eyes to spot anything unusual and to help. Ask a family member or friend to see if they can come with you. If no one else is available, arrange a time that would work for someone to be able to go with you. 

6. Inspect The Item

If you are buying, make sure that everything checks out before handing the payment. For electronics that need to be connected to the internet, ask to meet at a place with wifi like Starbucks.

If the item is brand new, ask if the box could be opened. In rare and extreme cases, scammers may place an item of similar size and weight inside a box and sell it as new. One of the craziest scams on Facebook marketplace we recently heard was where someone placed a tile in a MacBook box and sealed it to sell it as a brand new MacBook.

7. Know the Risk To All Forms of Payment

While there are different suggestions out there for how to safely conduct a monetary transaction, there are risks involved with any form of payment. Scams on Facebook marketplace can take place whether you are paying in cash or via money apps like CashApp, Paypal, or Venmo.

If a buyer is paying in cash, the risk could be fake cash or balled-up cash. Balled-up cash is where a larger bill like 100s, 50s, or 20s will cover up dollar bills to look like a larger amount. For example, you may agree on a selling price of $200. You will meet up and exchange the cash for the item but they can drive off with your item. In the meantime, you unroll the cash to see that it was a bunch of one-dollar bills covered in a 20 dollar bill.

To avoid this, have the buyer count out the cash with you so that you can see it before handing you the money. To avoid fake cash, bring a counterfeit pen with you. You can find them on amazon for a few dollars and are worth every penny if you prefer to do cash transactions.

The risk with Venmo is that there could be chargebacks if the account was stolen. Cash App could also be funded through stolen bank information. A seller may suggest payment through Paypal friends and family to avoid PayPal fees. However, know that there is no protection for you if you do this method.

8. Exchange Outside of Both Your Vehicles

Like the scenario described earlier with the balled-up cash, be wary if the person you are meeting insists on staying in their car while you are supposed to hand over the item or the cash. While social distancing is important, it is important that exchanges happen outside of both your vehicles to avoid anyone peeling off with your cash or item.

9. Take Your Time

One of the ways that scammers conduct a transaction is through creating urgency. They may rush you because they say they have somewhere else to be. Do not be rushed when you are counting your cash or inspecting your item.  Cross-check the item with the pictures exactly as it was listed or as sent to you. A legitimate seller should not be bothered by this interaction or extra precaution. 

If you are a seller, this includes counting the cash together and you taking out your counterfeit pen. It is nothing personal against the buyer, you are simply taking your precautions, not being offensive. Talk to the person, ask questions and look at them face to face. Take note of their mannerisms, expressions, and body language.

10. Trust Your Guts

Lastly, if you do not have a good feeling about a certain person, a meeting place, or something that seems off, listen to your guts. Do not proceed any further. Your health and safety are more important than any amount of money or obtaining a certain item. Even with all the cautions mentioned, be aware that scammers may use tricks. It is not being paranoid to be cautious and covering your bases as much as you can. 

Now that there are so many online platforms out there to buy and sell goods, it is very important for both a buyer and a seller to be cautious. Know the precautions to avoid getting scams on Facebook marketplace and any other platform online. While there are many good people out there, there are some that are bad eggs. They ruin it for the general public so do not be oblivious and stay healthy and safe!

Other Places to Sell Online

If you are interested in selling online on other platforms, there are many choices. If you need guidance on where to sell among platforms such as eBay, Amazon, Mercari, and the likes, read our post here.

Recent Posts