The Facebook marketplace gives users a convenient way to buy and sell locally. But this also means there are plenty of scammers who see it as an opportunity to take advantage of people. That’s why, while the Facebook marketplace has many benefits, it can also be quite dangerous.
There are lots of scams lurking in its pages that, as a user, you need to be aware of. There are many ways you can become the victim of a scam on the marketplace. Some scammers create fake accounts with stock photos and pretend they’re interested in selling you their car at an insanely low price.
Others pose as potential buyers or sellers and try to trick their victims into handing over money or personal information under false pretenses. However, by being cautious and taking some precautions before making a transaction, you can avoid falling victim to these scammers.
Facebook Marketplace has been a game-changing app for local businesses, enabling them to reach customers directly and sell their products with ease. But while the app is well-meaning, it’s not without its drawbacks—especially when it comes to safety.
A recent study by the University of Oxford found that Facebook users are more likely to fall victim to cybercrimes because of its “idealistic” algorithms that promote trust among strangers on the platform and expose users to potential risks. If you’re thinking about selling goods via Facebook Marketplace, here are 10 ways you can avoid being scammed.
1. Be sure of your meeting location
While it’s important to be open-minded about meeting your buyers, it’s also crucial to be careful about where you meet them. If you’re selling anything of value, make sure to conduct the meeting in a public place.
This will make you less likely to become a victim of crime. If you’re meeting someone from out of town, be extra careful about where you meet. Avoid public transportation or large public places like shopping malls.
Instead, meet in a small coffee shop or a public place that’s less likely to be monitored. If the other party suggests meeting in their home, be sure to find out why they want to meet at their home and why they can’t meet in a neutral place.
2. Always use cash
While most of us prefer to use credit cards or PayPal to make large purchases, always use cash when meeting a stranger. If you use any other form of payment other than cash, you run the risk of losing your money and goods.
If something goes wrong and the other party ends up not paying for the products or services you provided, a credit card company or payment service such as PayPal will help you resolve the issue. If you use anything other than cash, there’s no guarantee you’ll ever see your money again.
3. Don’t ship an item until you’re paid in full
While you may be eager to close a deal and get paid for an item you’re selling, you need to be very careful about shipping items before you’re paid in full. Don’t ship an item before you receive payment in full.
If the buyer offers to pay you part of the payment before shipping the item and the rest after they receive the item, it’s a scam. If you want to make it harder to scam you and avoid scammers on Facebook Marketplace, ship an item only after you’ve received payment in full.
4. Don’t give out your personal information
While you might be eager to make a sale, you should never give out your personal information to a stranger—not even your email address. If someone asks you for your email address or phone number, tell them you prefer to communicate via Facebook.
Most scammers will request your personal information, such as your email address or phone number, so they can reach out to you and steal your identity. If someone asks you for your personal information, report them on Facebook.
5. Use Facebook’s trusted services and features
In addition to adding a phone number to your Facebook profile so scammers can’t send you fake messages (see below), it’s important that you use Facebook’s trusted services and features. Keep an eye on your inbox for messages from Facebook Marketplace and/or Facebook Groups that appear to be from an admin.
Scammers often try to impersonate admins of Facebook groups and use Marketplace messages to reach buyers. If a message from Marketplace or Groups appears to be suspicious, hover over the message to see who sent it and report it if it’s fake.
6. Be extremely cautious of any deal that sounds too good to be true
It should go without saying, but an extremely good deal is likely too good to be true. If someone is offering a product or service for an extremely low price, it’s probably a scam. Stay away from deals that sound too good to be true, and only engage with users who have a good reputation.
If a post has a lot of likes and positive comments, it’s likely safe to engage with the user. If a post has only one or two likes and comments, it’s best to steer clear of it.
7. Double check the seller’s identity and location.
Scammers will often create fake Facebook accounts, including a profile picture and a fake name. If you’re buying an item from a user, it’s important that you verify their identity. To do this, hover over the person’s name and click on the downward-facing arrow that appears and select “View Full Profile.”
This will take you to their full profile, and you can then click on “View as [name]” to see if the information matches their name. You can also use Facebook’s “Search” function to find out where a user is located.
8. Don’t disclose your personal information.
As mentioned above, don’t ever disclose your personal information to a stranger. While it’s certainly important to be cautious about who you engage with on Facebook Marketplace, it’s not enough.
Avoid giving out your personal information at all costs, even if it means not engaging with users on Facebook Marketplace. If you want to sell something, you can create a new Facebook account and use it just for Marketplace.
9. Only buy from trusted sellers.
As with any marketplace, you want to buy from sellers who have a good reputation. To do this, click on the seller’s name, and select “Profile” to see their full profile. You can see how many successful sales they’ve had and what other people think of them. If a seller has a low amount of successful sales, it’s best to avoid purchasing from them.
10. Don’t install unknown apps.
Some scammers create malicious apps that steal your personal information, so be careful about what apps you decide to install. If an app asks for permission to access your Facebook account, it’s best to avoid installing it. Facebook Marketplace has been a game-changing app for local businesses, enabling them to reach customers directly and sell their products with ease.
But while the app is well-meaning, it’s not without its drawbacks—especially when it comes to safety. A recent study by the University of Oxford found that Facebook users are more likely to fall victim to cybercrimes because of its “idealistic” algorithms that promote trust among strangers on the platform and expose users to potential risks.