It’s easier than ever to buy things on the internet, but no matter how fast technology grows there will always be risks when buying and selling goods online. Scams on OfferUp are no different. For the safety of your finances, your accounts and your identity, you should veer on the side of caution next time you decide to check out OfferUp.
Here are some things to keep in mind when buying on OfferUp.
What is OfferUp?
OfferUp is a mobile-focused market centered on the buying and selling of goods online or in person. It works by encouraging you to search its large catalog of goods until you find what you’re looking for.
Using the built-in messaging system in OfferUp, you can safely contact and work out the details with the seller on how to get the item and what price to pay. Typically there aren’t many issues. But while OfferUp facilitates these sales, they can’t ensure every account’s legitimacy, so you’re bound to run into a scam every so often. So what should you keep an eye out for?
Scams on OfferUp
The scams that appear on OfferUp come in many forms. Often, these scams aim to make off like a bandit with either your money, your goods or even your identity. These can take the form of common, everyday scams you see and readily avoid, while other times, they are inventive and downright dangerous.
If you agree to meet up with someone to complete a purchase and retrieve your item, ensure you take every precaution for safety. Meet at one of the designated spots suggested by OfferUp, safe public places like a police station or library and always keep your own safety in mind no matter what.
Buyer scams on OfferUp
If you’ve been using OfferUp as a buyer, chances are you’ve seen or been targeted by a scam. You, along with the other buyers on the website, are the most at risk since you’re the one buying things. You have to pay money, and that’s exactly what the scammers want.
This isn’t to say OfferUp isn’t worth using. Like any marketplace, there will always be scammers hidden among its users. You just need to know where to look.
If a seller is trying to get you to purchase by clicking a link that takes you to another website, possibly even one that resembles OfferUp, chances are it’s fake and you need to stop in your tracks. No one should ask you to take your purchase off-site while you’re shopping. If they do, stop, drop and report them.
When a scammer is trying to take you to their fake website, it’s often an attempt to install malware or steal information OfferUp wouldn’t otherwise give them. Banking details, phone numbers and your email could be jeopardized. With these pieces of information, they may be able to scam you further.
Fake accounts are seller accounts that aren’t really trying to sell on OfferUp. They put up fake posts on items they’re pretending to sell, and their goal is to get money out of buyers with little to nothing in return.
You might see that these accounts have no feedback on them, or they may have negative feedback from previous victims. So keep an eye out. They may even use these fake accounts to try and sell a single item to multiple people.
If you keep seeing the same pictures across multiple postings, either from the same seller or many different sellers, chances are it’s another scam. They make these posts to catch multiple buyers in a scam. The buyers find these different listings without knowing they’re a scam, only to each pay and get nothing in return.
Not every duplicated post is a scam though. Some sellers can accidentally create a double, if not triple, of their own posting. However, if you notice a lot of duplicates or questionable pictures, chances are it’s on purpose. Ensure you check the seller’s profile for feedback (or lack thereof) from other buyers before committing to anything.
Additional shipping charges
If a seller is asking you for additional shipping fees, it’s a scam. All of the fees are processed by OfferUp. This means there will not be any hidden or off-site fees for you to pay.
If the seller is trying to swindle you into giving them money, report them and move along. Regardless of what they may be selling, they’re trying to scam you, and it’s not worth the risk.
Asking to use alternate payment methods
“If a seller asks for an alternate payment method, they are most likely trying to make their scam untraceable,” said Joseph Puglisi, a cybersecurity expert based in Las Vegas.
If someone asks you to pay in gift cards or, as a buyer, tries to pay you in gift cards, they might be trying to scam you.
Anything that’s too good to be true
Unfortunately, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Everyone on OfferUp is there to get money for their items, or to get items of decent enough quality to use. If someone is selling something really cheap, they’re most likely trying to offload something that isn’t worth much onto you. That vehicle you saw that was such a good deal you can’t possibly resist? Chances are it is too good to be legit.
Scammers might try to hide this by pretending they just want to get rid of the item quickly. In reality, they want to get money from people quickly. Of course, not everyone selling cheap is a scammer. Some people may truly just want to get rid of something, but watch for the telltale signs of a scammer before you commit. When you do get the item, make sure to inspect it thoroughly before handing over the money. You don’t lose anything by being cautious.
Seller scams on OfferUp
If you’re a seller you’ll need to be watchful for different kinds of scams. Posing as interested buyers, scammers will attempt to get your item for free and possibly even get money from you, sometimes in surprising ways.
To avoid scams (and avoid seeming like a scammer yourself), always keep OfferUp’s posting rules nearby. They’ll help to ensure you’re playing by the book and keeping all parties safe.
Code verification scams
Scammers on OfferUp may go so far as to attempt to acquire your phone number by saying they’re just trying to verify you as a person. They’ll do this by asking to send you a code verification that you need to scan. This is, of course, not a real thing and what they’re trying to do is phish you into revealing your information for them to steal.
This isn’t exclusive to sellers, either. Buyers can also be scammed by code verification. When in doubt, if someone wants your number and for you to scan anything, just don’t do it. Everything you need to complete a purchase is already on OfferUp. Never scan codes or click on any links.
When a scam buyer overpays you, their goal is to make you send the excess money back to them. Why would they do that? Because by the time the original money they sent you is processed, you’ll discover that it was never legitimate to begin with. Now, not only did you receive zero dollars from them, you even sent them some of your own money.
If someone tries to overpay you, never send any money back until you’ve proven, in person, that the money is in your account from an actual bank. Accidents can happen, but they’re rare.
Counterfeit checks (or even cash)
Sadly, when dealing with fake cash, there’s not a lot you can do once you find out the money is fake. The transaction will have already taken place and you won’t be able to change that, but you can still report the account to both OfferUp and the police.
The same can be said about counterfeit checks: You accept payment at the time of purchase, and it can later bounce or even be too much. Using threats or intimidation, the scammer can try to instill fear in the seller to convince them to send excess money back immediately before the check is processed.
If they take a different turn and try to make you accept digital payment that requires verification, they may be doing so in an attempt to steal your login details and money.
How to avoid scams on OfferUp
In general, common sense should help you avoid most scams; if something about a listing or transaction seems off or wrong, it probably is. Report the user and move on. Other things to keep in mind to try and avoid scams on OfferUp:
- Keep your conversations strictly on the OfferUp website or app.
- Do not verify codes or links for anyone.
- If they have any issues with an overpayment, you should go to the bank to verify, in person if possible, that the money is indeed in your account and not just appearing virtually.
- The buyer’s or seller’s proximity should be close to you. Don’t purchase items that are far away.
- Avoid price tags that are too low or too high.
- Do proper research on buyers or sellers. Make sure that their accounts are original as well as the pictures of their products.
- Don’t reveal too much of your identity. Keep personal information private.
- Don’t accept overpayment on shipping fees.
- Use strong passwords, 2FA and a password manager. Change them from time to time if necessary.
The best thing you can do is to keep OfferUp’s guidelines in mind. If someone is breaking those guidelines, intentionally or not, they should be reported since there’s a good likelihood they’re a scammer. These guidelines are in place for both the seller’s and buyer’s safety, so you’re doing yourself and others a service by sticking to them.
The best thing you can do to avoid scams on OfferUp is to remain wary of all sales until both the money and the item are in the proper hands. If you’re ever skeptical of someone and their intentions, follow the rules and guidelines of OfferUp.Keep common scams in mind and always check the legitimacy of the buyer or seller before meeting. Always meet at a safe place and never do anything questionable for the other party. No item or amount of money is worth your safety.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are scams common on OfferUp?
Unfortunately, scams are not uncommon on any online sales platforms and scams, in general, are on the rise in recent years.
Is it safe to give your phone number on OfferUp?
It’s absolutely not safe. You should avoid sharing your phone number over the app as it can allow scammers a new point of access to your information.
Are all sales final on OfferUp?
If you meet and pay with cash, the sale is final. If your item was shipped to you, you have a small window to request a refund or pursue a claim with the website’s purchase protection.