Staying Safe on Facebook Sales Groups
Facebook is still one of the leading social media platforms, with new features being added daily it’s important to remember some of the real life ramifications when using social media. Today we’re focussing on online safety, particularly in Buy, Swap & Sell groups and Facebook Marketplace.
Buy Swap & Sell groups are an insanely popular way to clear out unwanted items in your home, just as you want to sell an item, there are buyers lining up to buy them. Facebook has no real way to ‘police’ online sales activity outside of removing posts/banning people, so it really is up to the buyer & seller to stay safe.
We have all heard stories of Buy, Swap & Sell groups being a clearance house for stolen items, but in more recent times we’ve heard more sinister intent. For example, we read a story not long ago about a lady selling a phone arranging a meet up only to be surrounded by youths that demanded her phone and purse.
So what can we do to stay safe out there? Victoria Police recommend the following.
- Meet in a public place. (With a crowd)
- If you must meet at a home address, bring a friend or family member along.
- Always have a phone.
- Set up your phone to track your location to friends or family. Ie Find My iPhone, Live Location etc.
- Bring only the agreed-upon cash.
- Do the transaction during daylight hours.
- Don't give out any personal information.
- Listen to your instincts.
Now we have that out of the way, lets focus on the other elephant on the web… Online sales.
Often people are asked, will you send and item, does this include postage, do you deliver etc. We always recommend only buying items online from a reputable business or specific buy/sell platforms such as eBay. Many times, I have gone to pick up times listed on Facebook only to find the item is nothing like what was advertised. If I simply paid for the item to be sent to me, I would have wasted my money on a few occasions. If you simply MUST make your purchase online, insist on a PayPal transfer. This will prevent scammers getting hold of your bank details and gives you some protection against fraudulent activity. When paying with PayPal, don't pay using the 'family & friends' option as this will waive your protection rights.
Some other tips from our friends at consumer affairs Victoria.
- Do not send your credit card number via email.
- Keep all significant receipts and written warranties so you can prove your purchase.
- Avoid excessive deposits and high interim payments for products and services you have ordered.
- Use gift cards, vouchers and credit notes as soon as possible so you do not miss the expiry date.
- When you enter your card details, do not provide your bank account number as well.
- Notify your credit card provider immediately if you become aware of an unauthorised transaction on your account.
- Be aware that debit cards do not have the same level of protection as credit cards against fraudulent use.
- Check the business is registered by using the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC)'s business name search.
Above all, be smart when shopping online. If something looks too good to be true… it most likely is.
If you do fall victim to an online scam or dodgy purchase, you may take the matter to VCAT or Victoria Police. We warn against 'naming and shaming' people on Facebook as you could be in breach of slander laws. If you have a greivance with a business, there is normally an amicable solution. If not, you should contact Consumer Affairs Victoria.