Sunday, February 22, 2009

Things to prevent e-auction fraud when consumer participating in e-auction activities

Have you ever made a purchase or sold anything on an online auction? Is it secure to transact in this way? Not quite, if you are not aware of some loopholes that a clever scammer has in store to cheat you. But if you are aware of how to prevent yourself from being cheated, you can enjoy online auctions, just as much. Let’s tell you how.

Here is what is in your power to prevent online auction fraud:
  • Be aware of phishing. Verify that you are receiving emails from the correct source and that you are logging in at the correct website.
  • When making payment, prefer using your credit card over online transfer. Using a credit card give you the opportunity of a charge back in case the transaction turns out a fraud. Use debit card, wire transfer, or money order only when you completely trust the seller.
  • Use reputed escrow services. An escrow service mediates a buyer and a seller. They accept money from buyers and release them to a seller only when the buyer confirms that the product was received to his/her satisfaction. But be wary of sellers or buyers who themselves pose as an escrow service to cheat the other—a buyer posing as an escrow service gets a product released without making payment, or a seller poses as an escrow service to trick the buyer from making a payment.
  • DO NOT entertain emails received from outside of the auction website mentioning that the highest bidder has withdrawn and you are now entitled for a product. They veer you off the auction website and you lose any protection that the website may provide.
  • NEVER make a deal with a seller outside the auction. Although they sound lucrative, you are at a very high risk of being cheated.
  • READ the auction website’s terms and conditions, buyer protection policy, refund policy before making a transaction. Here, they list in how many days the order will be fulfilled, what if the product you receive is not the same as what was advertised, and so on. Also check that the policies are fair on both buyers and sellers.
  • Check if the product you are purchasing has appropriate warranty and documentation with it. If not, make sure that you intend to purchase it without that protection. Check if shipping and delivery is covered by the seller or if you have to bear those costs.
  • Check that you are not purchasing a product that you are not allowed to possess lawfully.
  • BE WARY of products that offer revolutionary results. In most cases, they are fraudulent claims.
  • DO NOT respond to emails that ask for your personal information, such as your log in details or credit card details.
  • READ the online auction website for feedback on the seller and a rating that they give to sellers and buyers. Most online auctions rate the sellers and buyers based on their transactions’ feedback.
  • READ the product features and the model number that you intend to purchase. Verify these with what is being advertised by the seller.
  • When giving your credit card details or your debit account details at a website, check that the Internet connection you are using is secure. Look for the lock at the bottom or https (an‘s’ appended to ‘http’) in the address field of your browser. These indicate that the connection is a secure one.
  • Avoid making a transaction if anything in the auction seems suspicious to you.
  • If you are cheated on any product purchase, be sure to post a note on the online auction website and let them know personally.

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