Prevent Internet Auction Fraud

Overview
  • 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.