Is it safe to buy goods on Facebook Marketplace?

Let’s face it, in today’s world lots of us spend time browsing online searching for the best deals. What’s more, if you’re an eco conscious buyer you might use a number of apps and platforms that allow you to purchase or sell pre-loved items, including clothes, cars, and furniture. Some of the most well known apps and websites that you may have heard of include eBay, Craig’s List, and Depop. 

Keen to push into this sector, Facebook established its own version, Facebook Marketplace, in 2016. The idea was for people to be able to discover who in their local community had goods they wanted to sell or buy. Unlike other e-commerce platforms, its focus on sellers that live nearby means people can pick up their goods quickly and easily, without incurring delivery/postage fees.

The platform has been incredibly successful, with over one billion monthly active users across 70 countries. But just how safe is it for users and what protections can you expect when using the platform? Find out below.

Purchase protection

Many sold items on Facebook Marketplace are covered by a policy named purchase protection, which aims to cover buyers by giving them a refund should a problem occur and if it can’t be resolved by contacting the seller. Issues covered include:

  • Not receiving an order
  • The product is damaged or different from how it was described
  • The seller doesn’t follow their refund policy
  • The purchase was unauthorised

This protection is free and is automatically applied to eligible orders, however in order to be able to receive purchase protection, you will need to use Facebook Checkout. This gives you the option to pay via credit card or by PayPal. When using PayPal, it is important to remember not to select “friends and family payments”, as this will negate your ability to get a refund. It is also worth noting that if you choose to pay with Facebook Checkout you are able to initiate a return for 30 days after your purchase. With third party payment processors, like PayPal this is not an option.

If you arrange to meet in person to pick up your item, Facebook places the ownership on the buyer to make sure any items are in good working condition. In this case the company recommends the buyer not to pay in advance, in order to avoid being scammed.

Red flags to watch out for

Facebook Marketplace is no stranger to scammers looking to make money easily by tricking buyers and so it is important to be vigilant when using the site. 

Their profile is sketchy: If their profile has been set up recently, they are lacking a profile picture or haven’t been tagged in any photos, or if none of their friends seem to live locally, it might be a bad sign. This is because it’s difficult for fake accounts to build up interaction on their profile. You can also report sellers to Facebook that seem to be obviously fake and Facebook can take what it calls “appropriate action”. Details on how to report an account can be found here.

The deal sounds too good: Facebook doesn’t verify the goods for sale. This means if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Watch out for fake items like designer handbags and trainers that are being sold as the real thing but actually aren’t. Check other auction sites to see if the price the seller is offering sounds reasonable given the condition of the item. 

They ask for your personal details: There is no reason why a buyer would need to know your passwords, credit card numbers, or bank details. If they ask for this kind of personal information, shut the conversation down immediately and cease all interaction with them. If you are planning to meet up with them or they’ve offered to drop the goods at your house they may ask for your address. The best thing to do in this situation is to avoid giving them your home address, as they might keep a record of it. Instead, try to meet somewhere neutral (in front of a police station if needed) and bring a friend with you for support. 

Have you used Facebook Marketplace? What was your experience like? Let us know in the comments section. And, if you have any questions or other technology queries, please tweet us at @techtroublesho1.

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