Facebook Marketplace sees over a billion users buying goods each month, but they aren’t the only ones “transacting.” FB Marketplace scams are increasing too. According to the Federal Trade Commission’s most recent report, 90% of online shopping scam victims claim they were cheated through Facebook or Instagram.
To avoid getting scammed, don’t take your transactions off the platform. Always pay for items through Facebook. You have the right to a refund only if you use the official payment and shipping methods.
If you expect a product by mail, get a tracking number. Use Facebook Checkout to protect your purchase.
FB Marketplace has special filters to narrow your search down to the products that you can pick up locally. You can meet the seller in person and inspect the product before making a commitment.
If you arrange an in-person meeting, take someone with you or share your plans to meet the seller with a friend or family member.
Before or in lieu of meeting the seller in person, take the time to verify who they are. Use tools to search for people to make sure they are genuine and check their profiles for reviews. Avoid newly created accounts without reviews.
Don’t pay for an item before receiving it.
Now, let’s move on to some of the most common FB Marketplace scams and how to identify them.
Taking the transaction off Facebook
Scammers will try to get your money in a way that you’ll have no recourse, like through a Venmo payment or wire transfer. Taking your communication off Facebook’s official channels is not a good idea. The social medium’s Purchase Protection policies only apply to transactions via Facebook Checkout, so if you pay a different way, there is no guarantee you will get your money back should something go wrong. Stay current on Venmo scams if you choose this method.
Malicious entities post links to fraudulent cryptocurrency giveaways on their Facebook profiles, hoping unsuspecting users will sign up. Facebook has no verification process, so anyone can use it as advertising space. When you click on a link to a fake giveaway, you risk downloading malware onto your computer. This gives hackers access to sensitive information, including bank and email account passwords.
If a giveaway seems too good to be true, it probably is. Report suspicious accounts and ignore links that don’t seem to lead to legitimate sites to prevent your data from landing in the wrong hands.
If the price of a gaming console or a designer jacket seems too good to be true, the above applies. FB Marketplace is rife with pirated or fake items priced suspiciously below market rate.
Look up the standard price of an item in advance and compare it to the price on FB Marketplace. Ask for pictures of the product before you commit. A stock photo is an obvious deterrent to any purchase.
Another common Facebook Marketplace scam is selling a defective product. This is especially likely if you’re buying a computer or another tech device. The seller knows it doesn’t work, but they hope you won’t check. Before paying, test the device, especially if you’re buying electronics.
Examine the seller’s profile before buying something on Facebook Marketplace. There are quite a few fake Facebook accounts created to trick people into buying products that don’t exist or are fake. The fraudster then disappears with the money.
Most people’s Facebook accounts are at least a decade old. A recently created account is a red flag. Be wary of any account that was created in the past few months.
The scammer will ask you to pay for shipping insurance and costs for items being sent by mail. They might even send a shipping invoice, but it will be fake. When you pay for “insurance,” the scammer disappears.
A legitimate seller on FB Marketplace will not ask for additional payment beyond the price of the product. Cancel the transaction if they ask you to send money for unexpected fees.
Fake rental properties
Some property listings on Facebook Marketplace use fake or misleading pictures, or the seller wants fees for background checks. Signs of a scam include requiring immediate payment or making excuses why they can’t show the apartment. Always view the property in person and confirm that it’s actually available before you transfer money or even fill out a form.
Just walk away if the seller changes the price of a product in the course of communication. A scammer lures people in with a low price, then tries to sell the product for more than agreed. Back out at any sign of inconsistency.