BBB warns, new scam targets online sellers
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Thinking about selling electronics or other valuables on eBay? Be sure to watch out for a new scam. Using a few tricks, scammers fool sellers into shipping goods without receiving payment. Better Business Bureau's Dale Dixon joined GMI to discuss how to keep yourself safe online.
First, here's how the scam works. You list an item on eBay. For this example, let's say it's a laptop. Someone purchases it, and, in addition to the official notification email you get from eBay, you also receive a message from the buyer. In this email, the buyer claims he has an emergency and needs the laptop immediately. He may say it's his son or daughter's birthday gift. In other cases, the buyer claims to be in the military, and he's shipping out in a few days. The buyer may also ask you to send the item to an unconfirmed address, often in another country. You reply and agree to send the item that day, as soon as you have confirmation of payment.
The next email you receive appears to be from PayPal. It looks like a message confirming the buyer's payment. But before you ship the laptop, you log into your PayPal account and check the transfer history. The buyer never sent the money, and the "PayPal" email was a fraud.
Dixon says, other than logging into your PayPal account, there are other warning signs. Check the buyer's profile. It's important that a buyer's profile shows positive feedback, a history of eBay use and their location. However, this isn't a guarantee that the buyer is legitimate. Scammers often hack into eBay accounts and use them to bid. Then, they request that the item be shipped to another address.
Make sure the email is really from PayPal. Read the email carefully, and check that the "sender" address is really from an "@paypal.com" domain. Also, hover over URLs in the message to make sure they link to the real PayPal website
Dixon also says, watch out for bad grammar and misspellings. Official company emails, such as notifications from PayPal or eBay, aren't filled with typos and awkward English. Poor grammar is a sure sign the email is a fraud.
Finally, log into PayPal directly. Before you ship an item, always confirm payment by logging into PayPal and checking your account. Go to the URL directly. Don't use a link from the buyer's email. Also, if you think an email is a fraud, forward it to email@example.com.
Better Business Bureau has a number of resources to help you protect your identity and money. Find more at the BBB's website.