A whopping 82% of Americans have either purchased or sold second-hand goods, according to data from OfferUp. That’s 272 million people who’ve helped to build a thriving second-hand retail market. Here, we’ll focus primarily on online resale sites like eBay, Poshmark, ThreadUp, Tradesy, Mercari, and OfferUp. Specifically, we’ll let you know what to be on the lookout for and how to protect yourself from scammers.
1. Mirror site scam
A mirror site is a fake site, built to look legitimate. For example, if you’re shopping on OfferUp, the scam artist will try to guide you to click on another link to make a purchase. Once you click, you’ll find yourself on a new page, but it looks so much like the OfferUp page that you believe you’re still on the OfferUp website. You’re not.
Instead, you were given a phishing link. There, you’ll find a form that requests sensitive information, like passwords, credit card numbers, or checking account info. Any information that can be harvested and used by scammers will be.
The takeaway: Never click on a link or leave the website you’re shopping on. Purchases made through that retailer are typically protected, but anything outside of that site is fair game for those looking to rip you off.
2. Overly enthusiastic buyer (or seller) scam
In this scam, the buyer or seller wants the deal done right away. They may ask for your personal email address or phone number to “speed the process along.” While your email address and phone number may seem like harmless pieces of information to share, they’re personal and can be used by identity thieves. The scammer may also ask you to text with them or otherwise communicate away from the resale site. It’s all about getting you to drop your defenses and sharing more information than you should.
The takeaway: Never leave the site you’re on, and never give a buyer or seller more personal information than you would offer a total stranger sharing an elevator with you.
3. Overpayment scam
This one is frighteningly simple. You sell an item for $100, and the buyer sends you a payment for $150. Soon after, they contact you and say they’ve made a mistake. They ask you to return the extra $50 or the entire $150 so they can issue a new payment for the correct amount. However, the original payment was fraudulent and would never have gone through.
The takeaway: No matter how you’re paid, make sure the payment is fully processed and in your bank account before you issue a refund.
4. Code verification scam
In this scam, the bad actor will pose as a buyer. Before they make the purchase, though, they want to “make sure you’re a real person.” They ask for your phone number so they can text you a verification code. The code they send actually contains a malicious link that’s designed to steal everything from your account login to your personal financial information.
The takeaway:Protect your personal information by never clicking on a verification link.
5. Nothing but a box scam
It’s hard to believe that anyone still pulls this scam, but it’s been effective enough to keep it alive. With this scam, a person posts a photo of a box that you assume holds the item you’re bidding on or buying. For example, it may be a new laptop, game console, or tennis shoes. The price seems too good to be true, so you jump on the deal. You pay for the item, but when it arrives it’s nothing more than an empty box.
The takeaway: Make sure you see what’s in the box. While that doesn’t guarantee that you’ll receive more than an empty box, it does make it slightly less likely.
The best thing you can do is to ensure you’re shopping through sites that have your back if you are scammed. Reputable sites have a refund policy that applies to anyone who’s lost money due to the actions of a scammer.
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