Watch out for scams on second-hand shopping platforms.


Continuing with our “Protect yourself against fraud” series, we turn our attention to online second-hand shopping platforms, which can also be used to perpetrate scams. There are several types of fraud which can affect you both when buying or selling. If you follow our advice, you’ll be able to use these platforms safely, detect any attempts at fraud in time and avoid falling prey to scams. Here are some tips inspired by true stories, to help you identify their modus operandi.

Sara wanted to buy a video game console for her son. On a second-hand platform, she found one that was a little cheaper than others she had seen. However, she spotted a few things that made her suspicious. The seller only accepted shipping options (not payment on delivery) and had hardly any customer reviews. Although the platform offered a secure delivery service, it did not allow access to this service and requested unnecessary personal details, such as ID. Moreover, the e-mail address provided by the seller was totally unrelated to the name on the profile.

Jorge placed an ad to sell a recliner chair he no longer used. A few days later, he was contacted by someone interested in buying it.  When the time came to pay, the buyer asked Jorge for his card details to credit the payment. What Jorge didn’t know was that instead of being paid, the scammer would charge Jorge’s card from a recharge website.

  • Although paying on delivery may sometimes prove impossible, or just less convenient, it’s a fail-safe golden rule. It means That way, you can check what condition the product is in. Arrange to meet in a busy public place, in broad daylight.
  • If that’s not possible, try to buy only from sellers with a proven track record and good reviews. Some platforms also offer secure delivery options, where the seller doesn’t collect the money until the buyer has received the product and checked that it matches the description.
  • If you’re asked to use a payment method you’re not familiar with, find out how it works and what the risks are.
  • Generally, it is not advisable to send money to strangers and be left to wait for a product that may never arrive.  Payment via bank transfer is not recommended because it offers no guarantee that you will receive the goods. The use of Paypal is very popular, but be wary if the seller asks you to pay using the option Send money to friends and family on the pretext of avoiding the fees. Never send cash by mail, no matter how many times you're told that it’s safe.
  • Don’t give any personal information such as your ID or bank details, for example, the numbers on your credit card. Don’t give them your phone number or communicate via instant messaging, but use the internal chat tool. Be on your guard if there are a lot of misspelled words or they try to rush you to conclude the transaction.
  • Being offered more money than you asked for smacks of fraud, so be careful. Often, the pretext given is that the person lives abroad and wants to pay for the high shipping costs.
  • If you’re selling an electronic device, before you send it make sure that you securely delete any personal information stored on it using the “restore to factory settings” function. If you have enabled the password saving option, others could gain access to your passwords and change them.
Did you find this information useful?