Scamwatch: warning to eBay sellers

Selling stuff online is not always profitable...

Updated: 
picture of angry businesswoman with laptop at work

Stay one step ahead of the fraudsters with our series of articles giving you the lowdown on the scams they use to trick people out of their hard-earned cash - and how to avoid being taken in by them.

This week, we focus on how fraudulent buyers are tricking sellers on the auction website eBay.

How does it work?

Thinking about selling something on eBay? You will have to be on your guard against bogus buyers.

A number of people have complained about the website supporting buyers who claim that items sent out in good faith never turned up or were faulty.

In several of the cases, the sellers have been left out of pocket because their items never turned up, while the buyers involved have taken advantage of the "Money Back Guarantee" designed to encourage people to buy on the site to get a full refund.

How can I avoid being caught out?

Unfortunately, eBay does not allow sellers to make negative comments about buyers in the same way that buyers can about sellers who let them down.

There are ways to protect yourself against fraud of this kind, though. Sending items you sell over the internet to the buyer by registered post will enable you to prove they were delivered.

Other tips include being wary of buyers who ask you to provide extra details such as your PayPal email or want you to send the item to another country.

I've been defrauded. What should I do?

Earlier this year, eBay launched an initiative to protect sellers from fraud.

Under the terms of the scheme, sellers do not have to send an instant refund, they can ask eBay to intervene.

You can take advantage of this scheme if a buyer tries to scam you by sending back an item of lower value, for example.

If, meanwhile, a buyer tries to blackmail you by threatening to leave bad feedback unless you send them money or offer them a discount, you should also report them to eBay immediately.

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