Friday, January 11, 2008

How To Avoid Online Scams

I'm writing this message to newcomers to the online merchant e-commerce business. Like most online store owners, I began by selling on Ebay. After just breaking even selling watches and video games, I thought selling higher priced laptops would reap me the quickest benefit. I got excited after selling 3 laptops on 3 separate occasions to the same Buyer. Per his instructions, I shipped his first 2 orders to his address in the Philippines. By the time the 3rd laptop was ready to be shipped to him, Paypal notified me that his first purchase was made using a fraudulent credit card. And of course, all three of his transactions turned out to be fraudulent. I learned from this experience to check the name and address associated with the credit card with the shipping address. If its unknown or not the same, be leery.

I am a honest person and I treat everyone the way that I want to be treated. For me, it's easy, it's natural. You hardly have to think about doing it. But, in my first few months of selling, I couldn't believe that so many people sit around thinking of such fowl ways to steal from innocent merchants online!

Here is another scam that is popular:

Merchants, if someone wants to send you a certified check for payment and you have given them the option of paying online, don't accept their certified check no matter what they tell you. Remember, you don't know them. If a buyer cannot find a way to get a debit or credit card, he shouldn't be trying to purchase merchandise online. Its probably a scam.

However, should you fall into their trap like I did and allow them to send you their certified check, don't cash it!!! It will probably be a much larger amount then what you are charging for your item and there will be other stipulations involved with the transaction; (ex. a buyer asked me to send the balance of her payment (about $3,000) to a orphanage in Nigeria via Western Union and let her know immediately once I had sent it). Keep in mind, that even after having the funds verified and allowing the 5 days to clear, a certified check can still be returned to your bank unpaid.

If you should get scammed, notify the authorities immediately. Your local police department will let you know who to contact to file a complaint. Hopefully, with enough complaints, scammers can be caught. Don't try to solve the crime yourself. These people are criminals. You can also contact:

FTC toll free hotline: 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357)
FTC online complaint form (
Canadian PhoneBusters hotline: 888-495-8501
Internet Fraud Complaint Center (

I finally decided that it would be beneficial to invest in a Merchant Account. Now Buyers can make secure purchases right off of my website using their credit card, debit card or personal check. I opted to only send merchandise to the verified address associated with the credit card or check. Scammers know that they cannot do business with me. So far, so good. I haven't had any problems.

If this article helps just one person, I've done my job.

Much success to you,

Valerie P. Smith
Owner/Manager of small Treasures For You

If you're searching for Treasures, visit small Treasures For You

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