common eBay scams

5 common eBay scams and tips on how to avoid them

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PUREVPN5 common eBay scams and tips on how to avoid them

Ever come across an eBay deal that seemed too good to be true? You know, the kind that practically beckons you with a price so enticing it feels like a steal? You take the leap of faith, eagerly awaiting your package, only to be handed an empty box or a disappointing knockoff. If this scenario hits close to home, you’re not alone because even the best of us have fallen for eBay scams.

In the vast world of online shopping, eBay stands as a retail giant, connecting buyers and sellers across the globe. But lurking amidst the vast listings and tempting deals are a few crafty schemes that can catch anyone off guard.

From the classic “photo-only” frauds to the elusive eBay gift card scams, we have compiled a list of the most common eBay scams along with tips on how to spot and avoid them.  So, if you’ve ever wondered how to tell an authentic listing from a potential scam, or how to ensure your hard-earned cash stays safe while snagging those online deals, you’re in the right place. 

Top eBay scams and how to avoid them

Let’s learn how to outsmart these eBay scams once and for all.

1. “Photo only” or “empty box” eBay scams

In the “photo only” or “empty box” eBay scam, fraudulent sellers use images of high-value items, such as electronics or luxury accessories, to attract potential buyers. However, when the package finally arrives, it contains nothing more than an empty box or a substandard imitation of the promised product. 

This scam preys on the trust of unsuspecting buyers, exploiting their excitement and desire for a good deal. It’s important to be cautious when coming across listings with prices that seem too good to be true. Additionally, take a look at the seller’s feedback history, because a lack of reviews or low feedback ratings can be a sign of potential foul play. 

Instead, always ask the seller for genuine and current images of the item rather than relying solely on stock photos. Moreover, always thoroughly read the product description for any discrepancies. 

2. eBay gift card scams

This is easily one of the most common online scams. In this fraudulent scheme, sellers offer discounted or allegedly pre-loaded gift cards for sale. However, once a buyer completes the transaction and tries to redeem the card, they find out that it holds no value whatsoever. 

The eBay gift card scams not only undermine the trust between buyers and sellers but also exploit the allure of a bargain. To protect yourself from falling prey to this scam, you must remain cautious of listings where the seller is hesitant to provide important details such as the card’s serial number or a clear photo. 

In addition, there’s no harm in being a little skeptical towards listings advertising excessively high discounts on gift cards, as these often serve as bait to lure in unsuspecting victims. It is also recommended to purchase gift cards from official retailers or trusted resellers with a strong reputation and positive feedback.

3. eBay Motors Scam

The eBay Motors scam preys on car enthusiasts seeking their dream vehicle at an unbelievable price. It starts with scammers creating listings for high-end cars, often luxury models, at prices far below market value. These enticing offers prompt eager buyers to make the purchase, only to discover that the promised vehicle never arrives at their doorsteps. 

This scam exploits the excitement of buyers, turning their dreams into a bitter disappointment. To spot this fraud, you should be skeptical of prices that seem a bit too good – especially for cars of significant value. In addition, always insist on viewing the vehicle in person or arranging for a trusted third-party inspection before making any payments. 

Utilizing eBay’s Vehicle Purchase Protection program and avoiding wire transfers for payments are also critical precautions to take when engaging in transactions involving high-value items like automobiles.

4. Non-delivery scam

Imagine eagerly waiting for a package you ordered online. Days turn into weeks, but there’s no sign of it. That’s when you realize you might have fallen victim to the non-delivery scam. It’s a sneaky trick some sellers pull. They pocket your payment but conveniently forget to send your item, leaving you empty-handed and frustrated.

This scam doesn’t just steal your stuff; it chips away at the trust that keeps online shopping running smoothly. However, there are a few ways you can avoid it. Firstly, watch out for sellers with suspiciously long shipping times or those who seem to have disappeared into thin air when you try to contact them.

To stay a step ahead of these scammers, always use secure payment methods like PayPal or eBay’s official platforms. They come with built-in shields for buyers And if you ever suspect something fishy, don’t hesitate to reach out to eBay support. 

5. Incorrect label scam

In this type of scam, crafty sellers provide a tracking number that makes everything look legit. But when you finally get your hands on the package, it’s not what you expected. It’s usually something cheaper and entirely different. This kind of trick leaves buyers disappointed and shakes their trust in online shopping.

One of the best ways to sniff this scam out is to keep a close eye on the tracking information. If the weight or size of the package doesn’t match what you ordered, that’s a big red flag.

Furthermore, to shield yourself, ask for detailed tracking info and, if possible, request unboxing videos. If you do spot anything suspicious, don’t hesitate to report it to the e-commerce platform.

Read more: How to easily get back your suspended eBay account

How to avoid eBay scams

Here are five crucial tips to help you stay safe from eBay scams:

1. Verify seller reputation

Before making a purchase, check the seller’s reviews and ratings. Always stick to established sellers with a history of positive transactions and avoid those with low feedback scores or negative comments.

2. Read item descriptions thoroughly

Take the time to carefully read the item description. Beware of listings with vague or misleading information. If something doesn’t add up, ask the seller for clarification before making the payment.

3. Use secure payment methods

It is recommended to use PayPal or eBay’s official payment methods. These platforms offer buyer protection and can help resolve disputes in case of a problem with your purchase.

4. Avoid direct communication outside of eBay

Scammers may try to divert communications away from eBay’s messaging system. Always conduct your conversations within the platform to ensure you have a record of all interactions.

5. Be skeptical of unrealistic deals

If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Be a little cynical about listings that offer high-value items at low prices. You can also research the typical price range for the item you’re interested in before making a purchase.

On a final note

When it comes to online shopping eBay is a fantastic platform for finding unique items and great deals. However, it’s essential to approach it with a discerning eye. By following the tips mentioned above, you’ll significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to common eBay scams. 

It is also important to note that using a premium Virtual Private Network such as PureVPN can provide an added layer of security when shopping on eBay and other e-commerce sites. For starters, it can encrypt your internet traffic, making it much harder for third parties to intercept your data – including your browsing habits, log-in details, and payment information.

Moreover, some sellers may have restrictions on shipping to certain locations. With PureVPN, you can virtually change your location, allowing you to access listings and deals that might otherwise be unavailable in your region.

Want to learn more about online scams? Stay connected to PureVPN Blog – your one-stop solution for the latest cybersecurity tips and updates. 

Read more: Buyers’ remorse: How to delete your eBay account

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