Common Marketplace Scams: How to Stay Vigilant and Protect Yourself

July 4, 2024

In today’s digital age, online marketplaces have become a staple for buying and selling goods. Platforms like eBay, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and Amazon offer convenience and variety but also attract scammers looking to exploit unsuspecting users. Understanding common marketplace scams, knowing what to watch for, and learning how to protect yourself, are crucial to avoid falling victim to fraud. Here’s a guide to help you navigate these potential pitfalls.

Common Marketplace Scams

  • Fake Listings: Fraudsters create listings for non-existent items – often at attractive prices. After payment is made, the item is never delivered, and the seller becomes untraceable.
  • Overpayment Scams: The scammer overpays for an item with a fake check and asks the seller to refund the excess amount. The original check bounces, leaving the seller out of pocket for the ‘refund’ they issued.
  • Phishing Scams: Scammers send links to fake websites that mimic legitimate marketplaces to steal login credentials or financial information.
  • Shipping Scams: Scammers persuade buyers to use non-traceable shipping methods. The item either never arrives, or the seller receives payment through an irreversible method like PayPal Friends and Family, allowing the scammer to keep both the item and the payment.
  • Counterfeit Goods: Sellers offer branded items at low prices, but the buyer receives a counterfeit or low-quality imitation.

How to Prevent Falling Victim to a Scam

  • Research: Always research the seller or buyer. Check their ratings, reviews, and any previous transaction history if available.
  • Secure Payment Methods: Use secure payment methods.  Avoid e-transfers or non-reversible payment methods.
  • Meet in Person: If possible, arrange to meet in a public place to exchange goods and payment. Bring a friend along for added security.
  • Verify Listings: Be wary of listings with prices that seem too good to be true. Verify the authenticity of high-value items before purchasing.
  • Check Website URLs: Ensure the website URL is correct and secure (look for “https” and a padlock symbol) before entering personal or financial information.
  • Trust Your Instincts: If something feels off, it probably is. Don’t proceed with transactions that raise red flags.

What to Do If You Think You Have Been Scammed

  • Report Immediately: Report the incident to the marketplace platform. They may assist in recovering your funds or taking action against the scammer.
  • Contact Your Financial Institution: If you provided financial information or made a payment, contact your financial institution or credit card company immediately to attempt to stop the transaction or dispute the charge to prevent further loss to you or others.
  • File a Police Report: For significant financial losses, file a report with your local law enforcement. This can help in documenting the incident for future claims and to help protect others from the same scam.
  • Change Passwords: If you suspect your account details were compromised, change your passwords immediately and monitor your accounts for suspicious activity.
  • Notify Consumer Protection Agencies: Inform agencies like the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (click HERE to report), which can provide additional resources and track scam trends.

As a financial institution, YNCU prioritizes your security and financial health. Staying vigilant, informed, and cautious can help you avoid the pitfalls of marketplace scams. Always prioritize your security and be proactive in safeguarding your online transactions. Together, we can create a safer online marketplace environment.

YNCU members, if you know, or think you have been a victim of a marketplace scam and your banking information has been compromised or you made a payment, please contact our Service Excellence Centre at 1-800-413-YNCU (9628). You can also contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Call Center at 1-888-495-8501.

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