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Auction and Retail Scams Auction fraud involves misrepresentation of a product offered for sale through an internet site, non-delivery of products purchased through an internet site, and nonpayment for goods bought online. Sometimes fraudsters use internet sales scams just to get your financial information. Auction and Retail Fraud: Most reported fraud (45% of complaints) Don’t trust a site’s claims to be secure Don’t trust a site because it looks professional Learn all you can about how auctions work Do not do business with offshore companies Know your rights in case of problems Learn all you can about the seller Check for feedback on the seller Do not give out your personal information
Man holding sign "No, I will not ship to Nigeria"
Auction fraud can victimize both buyers and sellers. Do your homework to stay safe.
Protect Yourself from Auction Fraud Auction Fraud Red Flags A product is listed at a ridiculously low price. Unrealistic claims are made for miracle cures or weight loss products. The seller has no auction history and no contact information. The seller and any initial bidders have a very poor rating on an auction site. The other party wants to complete the sale outside of the auction site (if you do this, you lose any protections that the site operator offer to their users). The other party insists on immediate payment, or payment by electronic funds transfer or a wire service. If selling, the other party wants to send you a larger check, then have you send money back or to a third party. If selling, a very low starting bid is followed immediately by a very large bid; at the last moment, the scammer withdraws the large bid, leaving you with much lower price. The online shopping website does not provide adequate information about privacy, terms and conditions of use, dispute resolution or contact details. Tips for Protecting Yourself Start small, buying or selling small items, to get accustomed to how online auctions work. Check out multiple auction sites: Most sites work in a similar fashion, but have different rules and policies regarding fraud, returns, insurance, etc. Read the help sections and instructions, check a book out of the library on how to use ebay. Compare prices: One way to avoid getting ripped off is to shop around to get a feeling for how much something should cost. Before you bid, contact the seller with any questions you have. Contact the seller anyway. Review the seller's feedback and rating at the auction site. Be cautious when dealing with individuals outside of your own country. Ensure you understand refund, return, and warranty policies. Determine the shipping charges before you buy. Be wary if the seller only accepts wire transfers or cash. Never deal with someone who wants you to wire money.  Also beware of cash only requests or when a seller wants you to send to a P.O. box.  It’s always best to use a credit card, because credit cards provide tracking information, typically have some sort of fraud protection built in and have a process for disputing charges. If an escrow service is used, ensure it is legitimate. There are many fraudulent escrows. Consider insuring your item. Be cautious of unsolicited offers. Insist on safe shipping methods and insurance: Use established shipping methods that require a signature, are traceable and allow for shipping insurance. Never send your personal, credit card or online account details through an email. Take pictures of items when you receive them if there is any damage or they are not as represented in the auction listing. Report fraud:  Finally, if you are a victim of fraud, report it.  Thieves rely on apathy and embarrassment to keep their victims quiet.  There are several places to report online auction fraud including the site itself, the FBI’s online division, the Federal Trade Commission’s website (www.consumer.gov) and the National Fraud Information Center (www.fraud.org).
Online Fraud
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