We’ve all watched the news and heard story-after-story of the innocent online shopper taken advantage of by a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Let’s face it: when purchasing anything from anywhere on the Web, it’s wise to take precautions before we pull out the Visa and go to town.
Online auctions can be a great place to save money on a unique product inventory, but shopping on a site of this kind has its own set of safety rules you should be aware of.
- Online auction sites often allow most any average Joe to sign up for a seller’s membership. If you’re on such a site, be sure to check out their seller reviews or feedback ratings from real-life buyers, like on eBay and Overstock.com.
- If you receive an email soliciting your personal information, it’s wise to call the online auction you’re a member of before you reply or click on a link. It’s common for phishing emails to be sent when money or auction accounts are involved.
- Stay on the online auction site itself! In a practice called ‘bid siphoning,’ scam artists may attempt to lure you from a legitimate auction site, promising you ‘lower rates’ or a great deal. This could lead to fraud and stolen identity.
- Know your particular online auction’s buyer protection policy. For example, uBid makes their Certified Merchants Program mandatory for all sellers, whereby all interested parties are screened for criminal activity, ensuring a fraud-free experience.
- Research who you’re buying from! Just like you wouldn’t shop on a no-name website, don’t trust just any seller. Opt for a seller with many good ratings, diverse payment options, and a solid return policy.
Online auctions house an infinite number of bargain buys and products you just can’t find elsewhere. If you so happen to run into a sticky situation when using one, your first response should be to contact the individual auction site’s customer support line or designated Help contact. Then, if you feel your situation wasn’t resolved properly, you can always turn to the Better Business Bureau or file a complaint on the FTC website. Here’s to safe shopping!