Not all online auction sites are all that they are made out to be. Certainly, it is alluring to go onto a site and to place bids on items hoping for a great deal. There may even be something a little addicting about competing against other bidders for a desired product and actually winning it or coming close. There are many sites where you can get a great deal or a lot of great deals; but bidders beware of those not-so-nice auction sites!
A concerned mother recently called BBB about her son, who went on a foreign website called cashtorefer.com. No product was ever received, and they are trying every venue to get their money back. According to the FTC though, “auction fraud accounts for roughly 48% of online fraud reports.” Here are some suggestions as far as safeguarding yourself against potential online-auction scams.
- Before placing a bid on an auction site, make sure that the site is reputable. Check the company out at www.bbb.org or call us. Some websites may be from foreign countries, and there is no way for Americans to verify the reputability of these. It’s Buyer Beware and recognize that if you lose money, there is a high risk that you may not get it back.
- It’s important also to check on a seller’s or buyer’s reputation. See what others have said online about their shopping experience. Was it positive? Negative? What address and phone number did the seller provide? Call the number and see if you can actually talk to that person. Does the seller give one address but then uses a different address for a third-party shipping company? Is the shipping company legitimate? Yikes!
- The product that you are bidding on may not have a return policy. This is definitely something to look into. The auction site may have a disclaimer on it in fine print, for instance, where it states that there is no liability for defects in a product and one of equal or lesser value may be substituted in the event the product wanted is unavailable. If you fail to read this and don’t agree to it after the purchase is made, that’s unfortunate because by agreeing to the purchase, you have agreed to these terms. This is what is called “buyer’s remorse.”
- And what about your method of payment? What payment options are available? If a seller wants payment made by money transfer, this means the payment is not secured and is untraceable if someone in a foreign country decides to pick it up.
- An escrow account, which is a 3rd-party service that holds your money until a product is received, may be something else to consider. But make sure this service provider is trustworthy as well.
- And, there is no reason a seller should need your “social security number or driver’s license number.” Refuse to provide it, if requested.
There are other ways of being taken advantage of on these auction sites, including inflated costs of items, adding miscellaneous fees for shipping and whatnot, and participants retracting escalated bids as a tactic to buy items at a lower price. Be on the lookout for potential things that could go wrong. And before you buy, if you are unsure, please contact us.
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/23905174@N00/2524306151/”>Don Hankins</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a>