Understand as much as possible about how the auction works, what your obligations are as a buyer, and what the seller's obligations are before you bid.
Find out what actions the website or company takes if a problem occurs and consider insuring the transaction and shipment.
Learn as much as possible about the seller, especially if the only information you have is an email address. If it is a business, check the Better Business Bureau where the seller or business is located.
Determine what method of payment the seller is asking from the buyer and where he/she is asking to send payment.
If a problem occurs with the auction transaction, it could be much more difficult if the seller is located outside the U.S.
Ask the seller when delivery can be expected and if the merchandise can be covered by a warranty or exchanged if damaged.
Find out if shipping and delivery are included in the auction price or are there additional costs.
There should be no reason to give out your social security number or drivers license number to the seller.
Prevent Non-Delivery of Merchandise
Make sure you are purchasing merchandise from a reputable source, do your homework on the individual or company to ensure that they are legitimate.
Try to obtain a physical address rather than merely a post office box and a phone number. Call the seller to see if the number is correct and working.
Send an email to see if they have an active e-mail address and be wary of sellers who use free email services where a credit card wasn't required to open the account.
Don't judge a person or a company by their web site.
Be cautious when responding to special offers, especially those through unsolicited email.
Inquire about returns and warranties.
The safest way to purchase items via the Internet is by credit card because you can often dispute the charges if something is wrong.
Make sure the transaction is secure when you electronically send your credit card numbers.
Consider utilizing an escrow or alternate payment service.