With inflation hitting everyone’s wallet, it’s not surprising if you’re seeking ways to stretch your budget. Extra income doesn’t need to come just by working more: You can sell unwanted items and cash in that way.
If you have toys your children have outgrown, or maybe you have unused items sitting in storage, selling some of that stuff on OfferUp can boost your bottom line. But beware: Online marketplaces such as OfferUp can be havens for scammers because of the anonymity the internet offers.
In this article, I’ve detailed the most common scams you might encounter on OfferUp.
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OfferUp Scams: When You’re the Buyer
Selling scammers can claim they paid shipping fees by sending you a bogus invoice, but OfferUp does not allow sellers to complete transactions on other platforms. So if someone tells you that or shows you an invoice, it’s a scam.
How to avoid it: OfferUp factors in the cost of shipping, so you’ll always see the fees associated with it. By staying on the OfferUp platform to complete transactions, you avoid these shipping scams.
Fake OfferUp Website/Email Scams
How to avoid it: Google’s Safe Browsing site status page verifies whether links are legitimate. Copy the URL and paste it into the Google page if you’re not sure about its authenticity. In general, do not click on these links or log into anything you don’t know. It’s simply a way to capture your data. Here are more ways to spot a fake online store. Counterfeit emails could look convincing if the word “OfferUp” is used in the username, but the key to checking legitimacy lies in the domain name.
Investment Opportunity or “Too Good To Be True” Scams
Thieves may dangle an opportunity to make money off of investments — if you send them some money first. Other scams can involve premium goods priced well below their market value. If you see a new iPhone being sold for $20 or Taylor Swift concert tickets for $15, the items are likely counterfeit or stolen.
How to avoid it: OfferUp is a place to buy and sell goods, not for investment opportunities, so if you see an investment marketed on the platform, don’t fall for it! You should also make sure to compare the price of any item you’re considering buying to similar items on OfferUp and other online marketplaces.
OfferUp Scams: When You’re the Seller
Be careful when buyers (or sellers) want to take communication off of the OfferUp platform.
One example: Under the pretense of wanting to verify your identity, a scammer will ask for your phone number so they can have a Google Voice verification code texted to you. If you give that verification code, you’re giving the scammer the ability to victimize others with an account associated with your phone number. That Google Voice account can then forward Google Voice texts and calls to a number of their choosing. And it’s all linked to your actual phone number!
How to avoid it: Using OfferUp’s messaging platform means you never have to share your email or phone number. Scams often start when you give away personal information, but staying in the OfferUp app can help keep you safe.
Scammers claim that they’re using an upgraded “business version” of payment apps such as Zelle, Venmo or Cash App and that you have to upgrade your account to accept money from them. The scammer tells you that there is a fee associated with the upgrade and as a courtesy, he/she will front you the money. The scammer shares a bogus receipt as proof and prompts you for reimbursement right away, creating a sense of urgency. They also could claim overpayment by providing a bogus receipt.
How to avoid it: Clark Howard says that you should use payment apps to send money only to friends or family – never to strangers! If a criminal knows your payment app username, all they have to do is crack your password to gain access to the money in your checking account. By sticking to OfferUp to make payments, you’re protecting information that you don’t need to give out.
Also, don’t take a scammer’s word for overpayment. Always check your OfferUp account to see if a payment went through.
Tips for Staying Safe on OfferUp
Now that you know about the scams commonly seen on OfferUp, here are some additional tips to keep your transactions safe.
Use cash for in-person sales. Working with cash keeps you from the many problems associated with payment apps. Let cash be king!
Use the OfferUp app for shipping. The shipping scams described above can’t happen when you ship through OfferUp, so letits payment and shipping processing keep you and your data safe.
Check out the buyer/seller’s profile. Learn more about the person you’re working with by checking out his/her profile. If someone has been a longstanding and frequent user of OfferUp, the chances are better that the transaction will be legit.
Don’t let a buyer or seller come to your house. Meet in a public place during the daytime. Also, tell friends or family when you’ll be meeting to complete a transaction; better yet, take someone with you.
Don’t fall for a pushy buyer or seller. If buyers or sellers ask for personal information because they say it will expedite a transaction, don’t believe them. If a seller is trying to get you to complete a transaction quickly, it could mean they’re dealing in stolen goods.
Make sure the items that you buy match the photos and description. Scammers may try to entice you with great photos of an item only to switch that at the point of sale. If you’re doing an in-person transaction, speak up. If you get an item in the mail and it’s not what the photos showed, alert OfferUp.
Don’t make yourself a target with an easy password. Never use the same password on OfferUp that you use on any other website. Make your password difficult to hack. Here’s help on creating safe passwords.
What You Can Do if You Get Scammed
Scams can happen to even the most vigilant people, which is why it’s important to understand what you can do if you do get scammed.
OfferUp wants you to report behavior that looks like a scam or is illegal, offensive or harassing. If someone paid fraudulently, didn’t show up to buy or sell an item or posted inappropriate or counterfeit items, report them to OfferUp so it can perform its own investigation.
OfferUp also recommends that you report fraud to local authorities, and it requests that you “encourage the investigating officer to contact OfferUp” and “provide us with … details of your case so we can work with the officer.” OfferUp also says it may suspend or cancel accounts in “severe cases or where there are repeated violations.”
Along with reporting scams to OfferUp and local authorities, reporting them to the Better Business Bureau and Federal Trade Commission is an option as well. That can help get the word out about common scams. Just don’t look for either to help you get your money back.
OfferUp can be a great tool for earning some extra money or for finding a good deal on an item you need. But like any tool, OfferUp needs to be handled with care whether you are the buyer or the seller in a transaction. As long as you do your due diligence every step of the way, you will set yourself up to get the outcome you want.