1. Paying or communicating outside of Facebook

How this scam works: Once you express interest in an item posted for sale, the seller might ask you to communicate with or pay them through a different platform. “Scammers often want to get your money in a way that is irretrievable,” like through a wire transfer or Venmo payment, Bischoff says. “In addition to outside payment methods, they might convince victims to call or chat outside of Facebook, where their correspondence can’t be monitored.”

How to identify it: Beware of buyers and sellers who insist on communicating or receiving payments outside of Facebook’s official channels. Facebook’s Purchase Protection policies only cover payments made through Facebook Checkout, so there is no guarantee you will get your money back if you pay with another method.

2. Mailing items

How this scam works: In this scam, fraudsters ask you to pay them first and then never send the item. By agreeing to pay for an item up front, “buyers run the risk of not receiving the items they pay for, either via non-delivery or by being delivered anything but what they pay for,” says Chris Hauk, a consumer privacy expert at Pixel Privacy. The scammer may share fake shipping information or screenshots to make it appear as though the item was sent, but in reality, they have already taken off with your money.

How to identify it: While it’s best to only purchase items that you can inspect and pick up in person, receiving products by mail is sometimes unavoidable. In those cases, sellers who can’t provide photos and video of the item before you purchase or ask you to pay for the item outside of Facebook’s official channels could be up to no good, and you’re better off taking your money elsewhere.

3. Selling counterfeit items

How this scam works: Don’t be fooled by a great deal on a designer purse or a rare gaming console. Facebook Marketplace is a hotbed for counterfeit or pirated items with price tags suspiciously below market rate. “If a seller is asking well below the usual asking price for an item, they’re likely up to something,” Hauk says.

How to identify it: Hauk recommends looking up the typical price of an item beforehand and comparing it to the listed price on Facebook Marketplace. “Always keep in mind the old adage: If something seems too good to be true, it probably is,” he says. You should also request multiple photos and even a video of the item before purchasing

4. Overpaying the seller

How this scam works: Believe it or not, sellers can get scammed by fraudsters too. In one common scheme, a buyer will use a stolen credit card to pay the seller more than the requested amount for the item, then claim to have made a mistake and request a partial refund. The victim will return the overage amount, but the original payment is declined and never ends up in the seller’s account, so the victim is stuck paying the bill while the criminal pockets the money.

How to identify it: If you receive an overpayment, decline the charge and ask the buyer to send you the correct amount. Anyone who reacts suspiciously to that request could be a scammer. 

5. Creating fake accounts

How this scam works: Before purchasing something on Facebook Marketplace, take a close look at the seller’s profile. Some scammers set up fake Facebook accounts to trick people into buying fake or nonexistent items and then disappear with the money.

How to identify it: One of the key things to look for is the date the Facebook account was created. Brand-new accounts should be a red flag, according to Burton Kelso, a tech expert at Integral, an onsite computer service. “In this day and age, most people will have a Facebook that was created at least 10 years ago,” he says. “If you see a Facebook account that was created within the past couple of months, buyer beware.”

6. Selling items that don’t work

How this scam works: One of the most popular Facebook Marketplace scams involves selling an item that doesn’t work, according to Kelso. “This can happen especially when purchasing computers or other tech devices,” he says. The seller knows that the item is broken but hopes that you won’t check it before handing over the money.

How to identify it: When you purchase items like electronics, Kelso recommends turning on and testing the devices to make sure they work properly before paying. And “don’t allow yourself to be pressured to make a deal,” Hauk says. “If the seller—or buyer, for that matter—pushes you to make a fast decision, walk away from the deal. If it smells fishy, it probably is.” 

How to avoid getting scammed on Facebook Marketplace

  • Do a little research. With any transaction, always take the time to verify who you’re talking to. Hauk recommends checking a seller’s profile for negative reviews and avoiding newly created accounts with no reviews at all.
  • Pay for items through Facebook. Using the official payment and shipping methods will protect your money if something goes wrong.
  • Get a tracking number. If you’re receiving an item by mail, Hauk suggests requesting a shipping tracking number. Of course, also make sure to use Facebook Checkout to protect your purchase.
  • Meet the seller in person, if possible. Use Facebook Marketplace’s filters to narrow your search to the items available for local pickup, and meet the seller in person so you can examine the product before paying.
  • Don’t pay for an item before receiving it. Instead, exchange the money and the item at the same time. For safety reasons, make sure this is in a well-lit, visible and public location.
  • Don’t go to a meetup alone. When meeting a seller in person, Facebook suggests bringing another person with you or sharing your meeting plan with a friend or family member as an added precaution.
  • Decline overpayments. Also request that all payments go through Facebook-approved channels. (Again, Facebook Checkout is your best bet here.)
  • Don’t share sensitive information. In most instances, you should never give out your bank account, credit card, social security number, date of birth or phone number. “If someone is asking for these things in a progression, be on guard,”

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