Social media scams generate more than 770 million US dollars in losses in the US alone, and it’s safe to assume that the global cost of this type of fraud is much higher.
With almost 300 million active users, Facebook Marketplace is among the biggest social e-commerce channels.
But, in addition to consumers eager to spend, this platform attracted fraudsters and other malicious actors looking to take advantage of unsuspecting users.
In this article, we’ll give you tips to stay safe in the Facebook Marketplace.
You’ll be able to identify fraudsters, will learn the best practices to protect your data, and discover the three most common types of scams found on Facebook.
Identifying Facebook Marketplace Scams
Facebook Marketplace scams come in many shapes and forms.
In the vast majority of cases, a fraudulent Facebook Marketplace posting has tell-tell signs. Here are a few signs you should look out for.
- Merchants that request personal information;
- Sellers that are pushy or making an offer that’s too good;
- Postings and ads that don’t adhere to Facebook’s guidelines;
- Providers who request the conversation be taken outside of Facebook.
How Do I Protect Myself on Facebook Marketplace?
Here are 8 tips to help you stay safe on Facebook’s Marketplace.
1. Don’t Let Emotions Take Over
Criminals are aware of the role that emotions play during the purchase process. Experienced criminals even leverage this in their fraudulent product posts.
So, you should try to keep your emotions in check and voice making snap decisions when purchasing goods on the Facebook Marketplace.
For instance, a scammer may try to make you feel like you’re missing out by saying there’s only one product left in stock. This may push you to make a snap decision without considering the security risks involved.
You need to keep this in mind at all times and avoid letting your emotions take over. If not, you run the risk of making a sudden decision that doesn’t take security into consideration.
2. Avoid Sellers Who Request Payments Through Unorthodox Methods
You can buy products through Facebook Marketplace by issuing payments through a debit card, credit card, or PayPal.
Always purchase products through the Marketplace rather than arranging direct payment methods. This will give your payments an extra layer of protection.
What’s more, make sure to avoid doing business with sellers that want to use unorthodox payment methods like gift cards or cash.
3. Connect to the Internet Using an Encrypted Connection
Have you already been scammed on the Facebook Marketplace? If so, did you know that your data may be used for ID theft later on?
Almost 40% of Facebook scam victims are afraid of becoming targets of identity theft. Fraudsters can use the information stolen from these users to request fraudulent credit lines and cause hundreds of thousands in damages.
Browsing the internet through an encrypted connection can help you protect your data from criminals and avoid being victimized by identity theft.
You can encrypt your connection using a VPN to protect your devices, but you have to use a service that’s fast, reliable, and safe. Your best bet is to find an awesome Black Friday VPN deal from a leading provider that offers great service at a competitive price.
4. Ignore Offers That Seem Too Good
New smartphones at a quarter of the price. Budget vehicles with almost no mileage. Home rentals in great areas for very little money.
All these things are too good to be true, which means they probably aren’t.
If you find a similar deal on Facebook Marketplace, be extremely careful. This is one of the most common ways that fraudsters take advantage of unsuspecting users.
5. Check Out the Seller’s Reviews
Buyers can leave reviews for products bought directly through Facebook. It’s always a good idea to verify your merchant’s reviews before conducting any type of business.
Pay close attention to what the reviews say and verify that these are coming from legit accounts. While difficult, it’s possible to manipulate reviews to a certain extent, so be careful nonetheless.
6. Don’t Share Personal Details
In some cases, you’ll find merchants that ask you to provide basic details like a phone number before you purchase a product to verify your identity.
This may be a red flag as fraudsters use a similar technique to collect personal information and conduct identity theft.
Your best bet is to avoid providing any personal information, including your phone number, and only buy products from providers who use other verification methods.
7. Keep Communication Inside Facebook
The Messenger feature makes communication through Facebook very simple. This is not a coincidence, as Facebook can access your conversation history to help solve disputes.
So, it’s convenient for the social network to keep Marketplace conversations in the Messenger app.
This is the reason why many scammers prefer to communicate outside of Facebook. So, it’s always advisable to keep all of your Marketplace conversations inside the social network.
8. Always Bring Someone to Pick Up Your Item
Digital and physical safety are just as important as one another. So, you should always bring a friend or family member when you’re picking up a product you bought in the Marketplace.
This is sound best practice in all scenarios, even if you’re not picking up a high-value item or paying cash.
If possible, also ensure that you’re meeting the seller at their store or in a public place that’s easy to access.
I Got Scammed on Facebook Marketplace – What Now?
If you’ve been scammed on Facebook, all hope is not lost. Here are a few steps you can take to try to mitigate your losses.
- Report the profile on Facebook;
- Contact your local authorities and file a report;
- Contact your bank or banks to cancel any transactions;
- Reach out to your insurance providers and file a claim, if applicable.
Top 3 Most Common Facebook Marketplace Scams
#1 – Counterfeit Items
It’s very common for fraudsters to sell counterfeit items as originals on Facebook. These scams are usually obvious because the item being sold is extremely underpriced.
#2 – Payments in Advanced
In this type of scam, fraudsters request payment in advance before the product is shipped or picked up. To avoid this, only make payments once you’re physically seen to goods being sold.
#3 – Faulty Products
Similar to counterfeit items, fraudsters also sell faulty products. In most cases, these products look and feel legitimate. But, they don’t operate as intended once received by the buyer.
For over two decades, fraudsters and other cybercriminals have used e-commerce platforms to take advantage of consumers.
It only makes sense that these deceitful players are migrating to social marketplaces. Besides growing at a fast pace, marketplaces on social channels aren’t as strict as traditional platforms.
This means that you have to be more careful whenever you’re purchasing items from the Facebook Marketplace and follow best practices like the ones listed above to stay safe.