5 Tips to Buying and Selling Safely on Facebook Marketplace

5 Tips to Buying and Selling Safely on Facebook Marketplace

Its almost the holiday season and we’re pretty sure you must be looking for that perfect holiday gift. Therefore, if you’re looking to sell some old stuff or even buying anything.  The Facebook marketplace is an appealing alternative for flash yard sales and very nice deals.

However, like any marketplace, both physical and virtual, it has its fair share of swindlers and scammers. It is important to shop with caution while trying to go wild and buy everything.

Facebook marketplace is a really nice market, and unfortunately, it has its collection of bad eggs.

Firstly, what is Facebook marketplace?

Facebook first introduced the Marketplace around October 2016. It took off so much that as at May 2017, well over 18 million items were listed for sale on the marketplace and this was in the U.S. alone. The service has long since evolved and expanded to other countries. Facebook reports say that the search volume in the Marketplace tab has grown exponentially since its start.  Over three times globally since 2017, with more than 550 million people active in buy and sell groups on a monthly basis.

You’re bound to run into shady characters when doing business anywhere eventually.  Before that happens, we would be sharing a few tips to be safe when doing business on Facebook marketplace.

Here are 5 tips:

  1. Use a credit card or secure electronic payment service for all transactions. Since the marketplace does not have any built-in payment mechanism, you would have to arrange payments directly with the other party in a transaction. Shady sellers may insist on cash, crypto gift cards or other untraceable payment methods. Shady buyers may also do the same by offering payment methods like gift cards that turn out to be worthless. Card issuers and payment processors such as PayPal are advisable and not its sister app Venmo. PayPal will investigate fraud claims on your behalf as a buyer, and they also provide better transaction security for sellers. Reputable Marketplace traders will welcome the use of secure services; which benefits legit buyers and sellers alike.
  2. Avoid transactions that don’t involve local buyers/sellers. How Facebook works is it will only show you, potential buyers and sellers, within your area or at least that is the idea. You can choose a radius as small as two miles or as wide 100 miles, but the default is 40 miles. If a seller tells you they’re going to have an item shipped from a long distance, there is a high possibility the order will never arrive. Either that or that it won’t be what was promised. And if a buyer asks you to ship an item long-distance, especially internationally, consider avoiding these. What these sorts of characters do is they will cancel the payment while the item is in transit and is not accessible to you.
  3. Check out buyer/seller profiles. When you click on an item that’s offered for sale, check the seller’s profile under “seller information.” Make sure they’re located in your area and be sure to check Facebook to see if you have mutual friends. If they’ve only been on Facebook for a short time, or if they don’t really have a lot of friends, this could be a shady account. It is advisable to steer clear. Also, search on their name on Facebook; if you see more than one profile using the same photo, that should tell you all you need to know.
  4. Inspect before making payment. If you’re purchasing an item, make sure you can see whatever you’re buying before you authorize payment. If the item is jewelry or collectable,  you should bring along an expert who can verify its authenticity or value. If it’s electronic, plug it in or add batteries to make sure it works well.
  5. Meet the buyer/seller in a public place. Some police departments will allow folks to meet in their station lobbies or parking lots to finalize business transactions. Also, you can pick a public spot like a restaurant, coffee shop and also record a video of the event. It is not a bad idea if you take a few snaps of the exchange as well, so you can identify the other party easily if any disputes occur at a later date.

When something is not right, or you feel uneasy about a transaction or a buyer or seller is imposing ridiculous alternatives, they are most likely shady. Don’t be afraid to follow your gut on this.

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