eBay Scams And How To Avoid Them

Ebay Logo

You’ve probably heard of eBay. Founded in 1995, the consumer-to-consumer corporation has been used by millions to buy and sell goods. Transactions usually run pretty smoothly – you compete with fellow users to bid for a product, you win the auction, the seller sends it to you and, if you choose to, you leave feedback. Sometimes, however, things don’t go to plan. There are a number of scams circulating, conning people out of large sums of money. We’re here to warn you of ways in which sellers on eBay can trick you.

Contact Before Bidding

Scammers will ask bidders to contact them BEFORE they bid for their item. This is usually done to convince you to buy from them directly rather than by following eBay protocol. They’ll take your money, disappear and because eBay will have no record of your transaction, you’ll have no proof. If you come across a seller who tells you to contact them before bidding, move on.

Postage Prices

These scams are easily avoided if you use your common sense. Sellers will often charge extortionate prices for posting and packaging in order to make more money. It’s not unusual for sellers to bump up the price of the P&P  a little for their efforts, but think before you bid – if a seller (from the same country) claims that posting and packaging for, say, a 100-page book is £15.99, they’re probably trying to rip you off.

Shill Bidding

It is illegal for you or someone affiliated with you to bid on your own items in order to increase the bidding price. This is a very common scam – sellers will wait for you to bid for an item, then, either themselves or an affiliate will bid ever-so-slightly higher, prompting you to do the same. This will continue until the seller is satisfied with the over-pricing, and will then retract their final bid, leaving you as the winner. You will have ended up buying something you could have bought for a much, much lower price.

You can spot this type of scam by looking at the bid history of the item:

eBay Bidding History

Usually, shill bidders will only place bids that are slightly higher than yours.

The Small Print

It might seem obvious, but always read the so-called small print. The seller might try to use complicated or confusing language to fool you into thinking you’re buying one thing only to receive something different. Because they’ve done nothing wrong, you can’t do anything about it and are stuck with an incorrect item. Always read the full details for the product, not just the title.

 Fake items

Sellers can forge seemingly-genuine labels and certificates to pass off a fake product as the real thing. There are a few tell-tale signs to look out for. If the seller is passing something off as ‘authentic’, but the price is massively lower than average, it’s probably fake. Don’t be afraid to ask the seller for more information on the product and its specifications – if they can’t answer it, they’re probably trying to scam you.  It’s also important to be wary of the language used in the description – phrases like “I believe it to be made of gold” and “authentic to the best of my knowledge” should set off alarm bells.

If you’re in doubt about the authenticity of an item or that you’re potentially walking into any of the traps we’ve listed above, turn your back. It’s probably not worth it.

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