How To Avoid Being Scammed On Facebook Marketplace


As the popularity of online marketplaces continues to soar, Facebook Marketplace has emerged as a go-to destination for buying and selling a wide range of goods. However, amidst the plethora of legitimate sellers lie deceptive scammers waiting to prey on unsuspecting buyers.

To help you steer clear of potential scams and protect your hard-earned money, Trevor Cooke, the online privacy expert at EarthWeb, shares valuable insights and practical tips for staying safe on Facebook Marketplace.

Don’t Send Any Deposits Without Verification

Before sending any deposits, it’s essential to confirm that the item is real, either by inspecting it in person or through a video call. Trevor explains, ‘Scammers often use the tactic of requesting deposits upfront without providing any proof of the item’s authenticity so that they can ghost you and walk away with the deposit.’ Protect yourself from potential scams by ensuring that you’ve verified the legitimacy of the product before making any financial commitments.

Review The Seller’s Profile Thoroughly

Thoroughly reviewing a seller’s profile is crucial to identifying potential scams. Pay attention to how active they are on the platform, as inactive or newly created accounts could be indicators of fraudulent activity. Additionally, be wary of sellers with numerous suspicious or very similar listings, as this may suggest deceitful behaviour. Taking the time to assess the seller’s profile can help you make informed decisions and avoid falling victim to scams.

Stay Suspicious Of Off-Platform Conversations

If a seller or buyer suggests taking the conversation off the platform, be wary, as scammers may use this tactic to exploit your personal information. Trevor says, ‘By communicating outside of the platform, you risk exposing yourself to identity theft or other fraudulent activities, especially if they ask for your phone number. Also be cautious of buyers who immediately ask for personal details, as they may be attempting to gather sensitive information for fraudulent purposes.’

Prioritise Safety In Meetups

When meeting a seller in person, always prioritise safety by taking other people with you or arranging to meet in a public place. Scammers may attempt to take advantage of isolated or private locations to carry out fraudulent activities. By meeting in a public setting or with others present, you reduce the risk of potentially dangerous situations.

Inspect Items Carefully Before Accepting

When accepting items in person, it’s essential to inspect them carefully to ensure that they meet your expectations and match their description. Scammers may attempt to deceive buyers by misrepresenting the condition or quality of the items they’re selling. You should be especially careful if you’re buying electric equipment, and you should insist on plugging it in or switching it on to check it works before handing over any payment.

Avoid Unsecured Transactions

Avoid paying through unsecured transactions or methods that lack buyer protection, such as gift cards. You should also refrain from stating that you’re paying a friend or family member on PayPal, as this removes your payment protection. Scammers may pressure you into using unsecured payment methods to evade platform fees or prevent refunds. Trevor advises, ‘Accept only money directly deposited into your bank account as payment, as scammers may attempt to use fake receipts to deceive you.’

Verify Tracking Numbers

Before finalising any transactions, verify any tracking numbers provided by the seller on the delivery company’s official website. Scammers may provide fake or invalid tracking numbers to deceive buyers into believing that their parcels have been shipped. By independently confirming the tracking information, you can minimise the risk of falling for delivery scams.

Ship Your Parcels With Tracking for Security

Trevor says, ‘Always ship parcels with tracking to ensure transparency and security throughout the delivery process. Scammers may claim that they never received the parcel to avoid fulfilling their end of the transaction. By shipping parcels with tracking, you can provide evidence of delivery and protect yourself from fraudulent claims of non-receipt.’

Beware Overpayment Scams

Scammers may overpay you and then request a refund, only to later retract the initial payment. Be cautious of this tactic and avoid refunding excess funds without verifying their legitimacy. Scrutinise payment amounts and transaction details before sending any money.

Trevor asserts, ‘By following these expert tips and staying informed about common scam tactics, you can navigate Facebook Marketplace with confidence and enjoy a secure shopping experience online.’


Chris Price