Facebook Marketplace is an excellent way to buy new and used items at lower prices. We’ve made dozens of big and small purchases on Marketplace and saved thousands of dollars in the process. We’ve also turned a profit by selling dozens of items on the platform. Facebook Marketplace can a great tool, but unfortunately, scammers are taking advantage of it, too. Here are 7 tips to avoid scams on Facebook Marketplace that we’ve learned in our Marketplace transactions.
Top tips to avoid scams on Facebook Marketplace
Understand the appropriate value of the item
Whether you’re trying to spot a scam or score a deal (probably both), it’s important to understand the appropriate value of the item you want to buy. If you’re not familiar with the item, do some research to see what it’s selling for in your area and in other areas.
You can get deals on Facebook Marketplace. Sometimes items are listed at lower prices because the seller doesn’t know the value of the item, they need quick cash (this is rare), or the item is broken and needs a buyer who can fix it.
Oftentimes though, a low-priced item is actually just a scam. Knowing the approximate value that the item should be selling for is the first step to spotting a scam.
Check out the buyer’s profile
Take a look at their profile and see what you can find out. The first step is just to use common sense. Does anything look fishy?
Some Marketplace scammers actually create fake Facebook accounts. Try to find out when the account was created. If it’s a brand new account or has barely any information, that’s a red flag.
Look at other items they’re selling
Often, scammers will be selling many of the same type of product. Often, they’ll actually have the same product, price, and description listen in dozens of different areas throughout the country. This is an obvious scam warning, and it’s easy to check. You can also look at their seller profile and look at their ratings. If they have no ratings (or bad ratings), you should probably stay away.
Examine the listing’s pictures
Do the pictures look like they were actually taken by the seller, or sourced from somewhere online? We’re not referring to a non-scammer sharing a stock photo so that you can see what a product looks like assembled or how much it cost them new. On the contrary, Marketplace scammers will sometimes source 1-2 photos that are not their own, with no original pictures. This is usually because they don’t actually have the item in their possession.
Ask questions about the listing
Scammers often won’t be able to provide specific details about the listing. Additionally, the details they do provide might not make a lot of sense. For example, the description of a mower or tractor might say something like, “never been in an accident”. Hmm… Or take a Dewalt router for example. A scammer might say that it “comes with extra blades”. They’re probably referring to router bits, and this is a sign that they don’t actually know about the item. It’s likely a scam.
Keep the conversation within the platform
Scammers often try to direct the conversation outside of the platform. They sometimes do this in a Facebook message. Other times it will even be within the item description. For example, they might ask you to contact them through their email address. Or they might have some sort of story as a way to move the conversation outside the platform. For example, “I’m selling this for my aunt. Contact her at this email address…”
Don’t send any money
Lastly, scammers often want you to send them money in advance. Sellers will sometimes ask for mailed payments or payments in gift cards or through other platforms. This is definitely a red flag. Though not always a sure sign of a scam, avoid paying in advance unless you are quite certain the seller is legitimate. Even so, it is still a risk. Whenever possible, meet up in a safe, well-lit location and pay with cash.
How can you know whether something is a scam?
You can’t always know with certainty whether someone is trying to scam you on Facebook Marketplace. However, if one or more of these issues is present in their listing, it’s a fairly good sign.
On the other hand, keep in mind that just because you notice one of these issues in a listing, that doesn’t automatically mean it’s a scam. Often, one of these things can actually be true. Sometimes people just really don’t know the value of an item. Other times they might actually have recently started their Facebook account, but they’re not a scammer. Perhaps they really are selling a car for their aunt.
Use common sense as you navigate Facebook Marketplace. If something seems fishy or you notice one or more of these signs of a scam, it’s probably best to stay away.
7 tips to avoid scams on Facebook Marketplace
- Understand the value of the item
- Check out the buyer’s profile
- Look at other items they’re selling
- Examine the listing’s pictures
- Ask questions about the listing
- Keep the conversation within the platform
- Don’t send any money
Avoiding scams and using Facebook Marketplace as a tool
In conclusion, don’t let scammers scare you away. As long as you keep watch for scam techniques and use good judgement, you can find some really great deals on Facebook Marketplace. We’ve purchased multiple vehicles, riding mowers, furniture, tools, clothes, and more on the platform. Buying used is a great way to make your resources stretch even further. With some practice and hard work, you could even start a side hustle by buying, fixing, and flipping items on Facebook Marketplace.
If you want to learn more, check out our top tips for scoring deals on Facebook Marketplace. Or, take a look at our step-by-step guide, and read about our favorite deal yet, a free John Deere mower!
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