One of the most popular ways to sell your personal items or business items online is with an online auction. An online auction allows sellers to reach customers all over the world who may be interested in their product or products, effectively connecting them with an untapped customer market.
As a consumer, you may be a little wary of online auctions as there are many different stories of people being scammed or taken advantage of when buying something from an online auction. While this is till a problem with some sites, it is all about finding a trusted website. Many sites have processes in place to protect both the buyer and seller from fraudulent activity.
To help give you a better understanding of how online auctions work and how you can buy safely online, we are going to give you a complete guide to using an online auction safely.
Understand the Common Risks On Auction Sites
The first step in using an online auction safely is to understand the common risks associated with auction sites. This will take a little bit of research on your end, but taking a look at the reviews of the site and looking to see what processes are in place to protect the buyer and seller to ensure that you are covered in the event of any fraudulent activity. You can also research common online auction scams to stay alert on what to watch as scammers are coming up with new scams daily.
Watch The Process On A Few Items
One of the best ways to become familiar with the process so that you do not overspend, lose money, or do anything that could harm your bidding is to get on the site and watch a few auctions to see how the process works. This will not only show you how an online auction works, it will also give you some insight on when people are more likely to bid on an item and what kind of increments people like to bid in.
Get Familiar With The Site’s Terms & Services
Before you start to make your profile and start bidding, it is best practice to find the site’s terms and services to read and get familiar with to better understand what you can and cannot do on the site. This will also allow you to see what is involved in the event that someone is scammed. Most sites will have a very extensive terms and services pages that goes into great detail on anything that you may have a question on throughout your membership to the site.
Make Your Profile Conservative
To protect yourself from someone finding out where you live, who you are, or any other personal information that you do not want to give out, it is best practice to create a profile that is very conservative. That means uploading a simply photo as your avatar, not a personal photo, using a user name that does not include your personal name or details, and leaving your profile information relatively blank. This will ensure that no other buyer or seller can find or contact you outside of the internal messaging of the website.
Make Your Password Very Strong
As with any website online, you are going to want to create a strong password to keep your profile secure. With a password that is easily guess, hackers can get into your profile and bid on items without your permission, get any stored credit card information, or have items you won shipped to a different address. While this is not one of the most common scams on online auctions, it is very easy to avoid with a well established password.
Do Your Research On The Seller/Buyer
When you are looking to bid on an item, it is very important that you do a little research on the seller, or buyer if you are selling an item. You want to check and see if they have good reviews, a good buying history, and are not a new seller who is offering a too good to be true deal. Bad reviews on a certain user can indicate that they have tried to scam before or have been difficult to deal with in past online auction transactions. You are going to want to avoid this when you can to keep yourself safe and stress free.
Do Your Research On The Item You Are Buying
Just like you are researching the buyer or seller, you are going to want to research the item that you are buying as well. Often times, people are selling items for higher prices than they are sold for in hopes to trick a site visitor into thinking that it is the normal price. A simply search online can reveal the average price of a product and you can easily determine what your maximum bid should be for that product.
Pay Only Through A Trusted Source
While most online auctions are going to offer a secured checkout, some sellers may try to get you to use an alternate payment method. This could be for many different reasons that are non-fraudulent, but it could also be to get you to send money through a non-secured site that will allow the seller to make off with your money without having the protection of the online auction site to cover you.
Inspect Your Item Thoroughly When It Arrives.
Lastly, once you have checked out and have received your item, you are going to want to open your package immediately. A common scam that sellers have used is promising one item and shipping a completely different or broken item. You are going to want to try to give it a good visual inspection and try to verify that any electrical components work as advertised to ensure that the product that you spent your hard earned money on is in fact what you had been promised. While most transactions are going to go well, you can never be too safe.