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70% Of E-Commerce Scams In 2023 Happened On Facebook And Carousell. Here Are 4 Habits To Protect Yourself.

Facebook and Carousell are still the easiest to sell pre-loved items, but their lack of security features makes it easier for scammers to operate.

E-commerce scams doubled to 9,783 reported cases in 2023, and more than 70% of e-commerce scams were perpetrated on Facebook as well as Carousell, according to a Ministry Of Home Affairs Press Release.

While it might be tempting to simply advise loved ones not to deal on Facebook Marketplace and Carousell, these two platforms remain popular because users can easily upload their pre-loved items for sale. The more secure platforms, Shopee, Lazada, Amazon and Qoo10, only allows registered sellers to list brand new items for sale.

Unfortunately, what Facebook and Carousell lack in security measures, the individual must make up for in personal due diligence. Here are some ways users should take special precautions, to make up for security features that are lacking on these platforms.

#1 Scrutinise Their Profiles

Unlike other trusted platforms, users do not need to upload identity verification documents before they can make listings to sell items on Facebook and Carousell. This makes it easy for a would-be scammer to hide their tracks, because even if the account is reported for a scam, it is difficult to identify and apprehend the scammer.

This also makes it challenging for buyers to determine if they are dealing with a legitimate seller or a scammer.

The first thing to do before transacting is to scrutinise the seller’s profile to see if it looks fishy. A profile that has been recently created is likely one that is used for scams, whereas a profile that has been active with many pictures, posts or listings for a few years is more likely to be legitimate. While this step alone does not guarantee that the profile is not a scammer, it is a good first step.

Read Also: 4 Internet Habits To Adopt To Prevent Scams

#2 Look At Feedback And Past Listings

For trusted platforms, there is usually some kind of feedback system and scam/bad seller reporting system. Sellers who have been reported for scams may have their payments frozen and their accounts shut down. Additionally, each product item has some sort of review from other buyers, so a potential buyer can see if the product is authentic or worth it. However, such a system does not exist for Facebook and Carousell, so users need to be extra vigilant.

A legitimate seller will most likely have other listings, and they will most likely also have some stuff marked as sold. On Carousell, if the seller has been transacting often, you will often be able to view feedback from other users, which will give you a sense to whether the seller/buyer has been well-behaved on the platform. Scammers will usually be be reported, and Carousell will usually shut down the account after some investigation.

On Facebook, unfortunately, no such feedback system exists. While buyers/sellers can still comment on the listings to indicate their feedback, this can be easily doctored through other fake accounts, and more importantly, there is no norm for users to leave feedback after transacting.

In either case, if the user’s account has been recently created, and the user has no previous transactions, it is prudent to be on alert.

#3 Meet And Pay In Person

The third habit to have is to meet in person for the transaction. Scammers are unlikely to meet with you in person since they may not be in the same country, and even if they are, meeting in person increases the chances of them getting caught.

More importantly, when you meet in person, you can physically take possession of the goods and inspect it while you make payment. Nevertheless, you should still watch out for people who try to sell you counterfeit goods.

Read Also: 5 Most Common Scams In 2023 And How To Protect Yourself

#4 Use Secure Payment Options

Secure payment services are already available on the more secure platforms. The money is typically held by the e-commerce platform, until such time as the goods arrive. The seller only receives payments when the buyer receives goods to their satisfaction, failing which they can raise a dispute, and failing a resolution, the e-commerce platform has staff who can step in and arbitrate.

If indeed the deal was a scam, the e-commerce platform will return the money to the buyer. Secure payment systems make it much tougher for a scammer to operate on those platforms because sellers will only receive payment after the buyer receives the goods and verifies the goods.

Carousell has CarouPay, which allows the buyer to pay and the seller to verify payment at the same time. The money is then held by CarouPay until the buyer has received the goods and indicates their satisfaction, then it is released to the seller. If there is a dispute, CarouPay will not disburse the payment or make a refund until the disagreement is resolved.

Unfortunately, Facebook Marketplace does not have options for secure payment. If you choose to deal without meeting in person, online payment methods like PayNow do not have an avenue to report a scam and get refunds.

Be Alert If It Seems Too Good To Be True

E-commerce deals that are too good to be true are almost always scams. A seller letting go of an item typically knows the value of the item and does not want to lose more value than they have to even if they need the cash urgently. E-commerce scams are typically made to seem very cheap to lure the unsuspecting into making a deal. If in doubt, it is always better to refrain from dealing rather than losing your hard-earned money.

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