Looking for Regional Information?

How to Avoid Internet Auction Fraud

By Charles Hopkins Published 04/23/2006 | Computer
In the early days of Internet auctions you were much more likely to be conned than you are today. Figures from the National Fraud Information Center for the year 2000 stated that 78% of Internet fraud at that time took place on online auction sites. These days the big sites have taken steps to make their auctions safer places for their users.

Despite it being safer to buy online from auctions today, it still pays to be on your guard when transacting in Internet auctions. Here are some tips to ensure you don't get ripped off.

Only buy from sellers with good feedback scores. This is definitely one of your best protections. Indeed, this is a feature of Internet auctions which can't be matched by other online retailers. This independent rating system will give you a very good indication of which sellers can be trusted. Just make sure that the seller has carried out enough selling auctions for it to be a reliable indicator.

Pay by the safest means you can. This will generally be credit card. This way, if you do have any problems you can seek redress through your credit card provider. Again, this is a facility you wouldn't normally have when buying from a private individual, so make use of this extra security feature of online auctions.

Only use the big name auction sites. Stay clear of the small, out of the way sites that nobody's heard of. The bigger sites have a reputation they want to protect. That means they'll take any fraud complaints seriously and deal with the culprits quickly because it's in their interest to do so.

Make sure you work out exactly what the product or service you're intent on buying is worth to you. If you do this at the outset you'll be in a better position to make sure you don't overbid and end up paying more than the item's worth. It may sound stupid, but there are plenty of people who'll testify to having been caught up in a bidding frenzy. Auctions can be exciting and addictive, but it doesn't make sense to pay more for items at auction than those items can readily be bought for elsewhere.

Remember that when you place a bid you have, in effect, entered into a contract with the seller. Don't place a bid if you don't really want the item. If you don't adhere to this rule that pink, floral toilet seat could be yours!

And finally, the golden rule for buying on Internet auction sites - if it sounds too good to be true, it very probably is.