Mike Reineck, of Boise, like many small business owners, couldn’t see taking the gently used printer he’d purchased out on the curb simply because he’d upgraded.
“After sitting unsold on the local Craigslist for six weeks, I got an email asking if it was still for sale, and the buyer wanted to pay via PayPal,” he said. “I thought: ‘Well, if it the money goes into my PayPal account, it’s a legitimate purchase.'”
Hold on to that thought. When you start to think that all e-payments are secure and safe, you better read on.
Mike went to a posting that spells out the flaws. Here’s an abbreviated look.
- You get an “official looking” email from PayPal stating money’s been sent, but won’t be credited to your account until you email a tracking number. PayPal never asks for a tracking number!
- Don’t click-through on “official looking” emails. PayPal will not ask you to click-through to confirm the transaction has been done. Click in, you’ll be redirected to a lookalike site where you’ll type in your user name, password and open access to the scammer.
- You get an email that says he will send the package, and the tracking number, and as soon as you send that you’ve received the shipment, he’ll give the tacking number to PayPal to when done. This is probably stolen merchandise.
- Buyer wants to use PayPal account. He puts the money into the account, you verify, send the merchandise, and once you send the item, the real account holder reports it as a theft and PayPal debits your account. No money, no merchandise.
- Never ship to a different address. Doing so allows the scammer to revert a charge back saying they never received the goods. You have no protection from PayPal if you ship to a different address. Again. No money, no merchandise.
- Never accept more money than what you’re asking for, and never send money to a third-party. Forged checks are used in overpayments scams, and you are responsible to repay the bank. You lose twice in this scam – your own and the money you have to pay back.
Reinick says he became suspicious and the “danger ahead” lights came on.
“I determined that the buyer was in the S.F. Bay Area, which keyed me to think there was no shortage of printers there,” he says.
The following are red flags you’re likely dealing with a fraudster:
- The buyer or seller is from another country.
- The buyer or seller will not meet with you and will only communicate via e-mail.
- The buyer overpays and asks you to wire the extra funds back to him/her.
Here’s another article on this topic.
And, if you have doubts about the safety of a transaction, contact PayPal by phone (1-888-215-5506 – Toll Free Number), email at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter at @AskPayPal.