With Christmas long gone, many of us enter the new year wishing to declutter. Sometimes that means getting rid of the dud gifts that you might have been given recently, and perhaps you’ll be tempted to sell them online.
However, just like buying online, selling online should follow some basic rules and best practices to avoid scams and other security risks.
Nick FitzGerald, Senior Research Fellow at ESET, has some tips on how to safely sell unwanted products online and also how to safely shop online – just in case you decide to buy something new with that spare cash.
Tips For Selling And Buying Safely Online with PayPal
There are many ways to sell unwanted Christmas gifts. Gumtree, eBay and now even Facebook has launched its own marketplace. However, there are three major types of scams that sellers can come across when selling online.
The Fake PayPal email
When selling online, most users will use a PayPal account to receive the money. However, there is a common scam whereby the seller receives an email notification apparently from PayPal notifying them that a buyer has paid and the item can be posted.
“These emails are generally hoaxes and uncover a complete scam as the money hasn’t been sent to your account,” FitzGerald said. To avoid this situation, sellers must:
- Check if their PayPal balance has changed
- Don’t believe the email right away and directly check with their PayPal account
- Check the email timings to see if the PayPal email hasn’t mysteriously arrived before eBay notifying of a sale (if using eBay in that case).
- Look at the PayPal email in detail to check for any suspicious words or the sender’s address.”
The buyer wanting to pay before collecting the item
Many sellers choose Gumtree as an easy and free way to sell products directly to the buyer, especially if products are inconvenient to ship. While most buyers will just give cash on collection, some buyers might ask to pay beforehand via PayPal for ‘safety reasons’. Sellers might think the money is in their account and happily hand over the product but the next day, they might receive a message from PayPal letting them know the transaction has been reversed.
“This is a typical scam of the buyer actually never paying the seller, and using a message that probably came from a hacked account, including a PayPal phishing email hack. To avoid this situation, just insist on cash on collection. Don’t believe the buyer saying they feel it’s safer to pay by PayPal. Cash is a lot harder to fake!” said FitzGerald.
The buyer not wanting the included shipping from eBay
Imagine this – The product is sold and ready to be shipped but just after the sale, the buyer asks to collect it in person. You agree for the postage to be deducted from PayPal and the correct amount is paid. Then the buyer asks for a refund saying they’ve never received the item. Because you can’t prove to PayPal or eBay the buyer got the item, you’ll now have to give the money back and the postage they never paid.
“In this kind of situation, it is always best to stick to the plan and post the item as you duly planned. If this isn’t happening, make sure you have a written record of your arrangement to meet up and if you want to be extra-cautious, you can always take a photograph of them and the item once the sale is done,”FitzGerald said.
How to safely shop online
- Stick with official brands and avoid ‘too good to be true’ discounts. There has been a surge in fake and professional-looking apps and websites luring victims into buying official-looking brands at good prices. However, these are perfect examples of phishing sites looking at extracting personal data and sometimes credit card details.
- Always check the security of a website. An https connection and the padlock icon will indicate you are on a website that encrypts data between your browser and the webserver.
- Shopping via mobile is now very common. Avoid connecting to a public Wi-Fi hotspot while at a café or in a public place. Although you may be in a rush to get a nice gift for your loved ones, there are many risks associated with using a public hotspot, including stolen banking details. Especially when doing online banking or making purchases, it is best to stick to mobile data provided by your network provider.