Never buy ANYTHING from Facebook without checking genius 'scam list' first

IT'S one of the most popular places to sell stuff on the net, with more than a billion users worldwide logging in every month.

But while Facebook Marketplace is growing rapidly, it's also a hotbed for scammers out to trick people into handing over their hard-earned cash.

They use sophisticated techniques that can leave people hundreds or even thousands out of pocket.

A survey has this week revealed that one in six people has fallen victim to a trickster on the online platform.

Budgeting experts thinkmoney queried 1,000 Brits to investigate the most common tactics used.

They include approaching victims using a fake profile and asking to be paid in advance for items that never arrive.

Thinkmoney, a UK-based banking services provider, has pulled together nine tips to help you spot Facebook Marketplace scams.

If you're ever unsure whether a deal is dodgy, take these steps to help protect your money.

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1. Always check when the Facebook profile was created

Before you sell, or even buy anything, on Facebook Marketplace, take a look at the person’s profile.

Check the date the account was created. Facebook launched in the UK in 2005, so most people will have accounts that date a few years back.

If the account contacting you was created very recently (in the past few weeks or months), you should approach with caution as this could show that it has specifically been created to scam innocent people.

**How to check when an account was created on Facebook Marketplace **

  • Click on the listed item you are interested in
  • Scroll down to ‘Seller information’
  • This information should tell you their Facebook name, and the year they joined Facebook

2. Never pay in advance for an item

You should try to never pay in advance for an item before you receive it.

This is a common tactic that could see you pay for an item that will likely never arrive, leaving you out of pocket.

Instead, always try to exchange the money and the item at the same time (if buying locally).

Make sure this is in a public place, and you bring someone that you know with you.

If someone is sending the item, make sure you get proof of postage and a tracking number.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t guarantee that the item will arrive as described, so try to get photo evidence of the item being sent.

You will always have to err on the side of caution when buying second-hand items.

3. Always use reputable payment methods

You want to make sure you aren’t getting short-changed when buying or selling items on Marketplace.

The likes of PayPal can be secure for buyers as they will investigate any claims on your behalf.

Plus, they also provide security for sellers. But that’s if you pay through the right method.

Avoid paying through the ‘friends and family’ method if they are strangers, as this comes with no protection. Use the ‘goods and services’ option instead.

Never agree to any payment methods that you don’t want to use. It’s your money, so ensure you are comfortable and protect your funds.

4. Be aware of refund options if using PayPal

When buying an item through PayPal, you can choose the "goods and services" or "friends and family".

The latter is essentially a transaction for people you know which means they don’t have to pay a fee to receive payment.

But scammers are aware of this and could be forcing you to use this option, as it also leaves you without buyer protection.

It is harder to receive your money back through this method.

However, using the "goods and services" method will see you covered by PayPal Buyer’s Protection.

Therefore, you can opt for a refund if the item doesn’t arrive or match what was described.

To do this, you must:

  • Dispute the transaction within 180 days of you buying the product. Just login to your PayPal account, click ‘Dispute Transaction’ (which can be found under ‘Report a Problem’).
  • Select the transaction you are disputing and click Continue.
  • Select ‘Item dispute’. You and the seller will then have 20 days to come to a solution. If that doesn’t work, you can escalate the claim within 20 days of opening the dispute.

5. Insist on tracking for items sent by mail

If you do need to receive an item by post, insist on a method of shipping that allows you to track the postage. That way, you can make sure they have sent you the item in the post.

6. Only communicate using Facebook

If the seller insists on speaking outside of Facebook, be wary. And never give away your personal number to a stranger.

Doing so might result in you sending payments through methods that leave you unable to claim your money back.

Insist on communication through Facebook and stop communication altogether if they are trying to force you to speak on other channels.

7. If the listing price changes, be cautious

If you’re looking to buy an item but then the price becomes higher once you are interested, thinkmoney recommends walking away or, at least, questioning why the price has changed now that you have shown interest.

Remember, this could be a tactic to lure you in and then try to get more money, so always question and walk away if you are unsure or not confident about what it is you are buying.

8. Block and report any seller harassing you for money

If you have shown interest in something on Facebook Marketplace and communicated with the seller, but they are now harassing you for money, block and report them.

You can report a seller by clicking on the item you were interested in and then clicking on their name.

Once on their profile, click the three dots on the page and choose "Report". You should then block them so they are no longer able to contact you.

9. Always err on the side of caution with rental listings

Facebook Marketplace is not only a place to buy items. There are also listings for renting properties.

If you are going to rent a property from Marketplace, thinkmoney advises treating it as if you are renting a property from an agent.

Always go to view the property, confirm its availability and don’t pay for anything (including deposits in advance) until you have signed proper paperwork.

They could be using fake pictures of old listings, or, in some cases, the property might not be available at all and you could be out of money by paying a deposit to "secure" a home that was never available in the first place.

What should you do if you have been scammed?

  • Immediately report the scammer. Do this by clicking on the name of the seller and the three dots on the profile, choosing the "Report" option. You then need to follow the instructions.
  • Block the seller. This will stop any communication, particularly if they have been harassing you for payment.
  • You can also contact the likes of PayPal through Buyer Protection if you have used their payment methods, to try and get your money back. This will take you through how to set up a dispute.

Thinkmoney's Jonny Sabinsky said: "It comes as no surprise that more people than ever are being scammed through social media platforms, specifically Facebook.

"It’s important that you are always aware of who you are speaking to and their intentions when it comes to you and your money.”

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