Top Tips on How to Spot and Avoid OfferUp Scams

December 30, 2021

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Want to avoid Offerup scams? Below, we show you how to avoid getting scammed and maximize your experience across the site. 

Scammers are nothing new. But as online marketplaces grow in size and popularity, so do the number of ways fraudsters use to exploit those sites’ weaknesses and scam users out of their money and private info.

Take the OfferUp app. A popular mobile platform for buying and selling items locally, OfferUp now finds a variety of fraudsters in its midst. These scammers often pose as legitimate buyers and sellers, regularly using in-person transactions to trick actual users and steal whatever they can.

Unsurprisingly, this has earned the ire of many OfferUp users. And while OfferUp has tried to fix the problem and ramp up buyer and seller protection efforts, those attempts seem to have fallen short. Bad players continue to operate across the OfferUp platform, putting new users at risk every day.

Can you get scammed on OfferUp?

Whether you’re a buyer or seller, you always face the possibility of getting scammed each time you use the OfferUp app. This is because scammers on Offerup know how to navigate the site and have plenty of ways to trick you out of your money and info.

How to identify common scams on OfferUP

Knowing how to identify common OfferUp scams is key to spotting the red flags and protecting yourself throughout the buying or selling experience.

Some of the more common types of scams to watch for include:

The Fake Check

Scammers fronting as real buyers will sometimes send the seller a phony check to complete the sale. Upon sending the check, they instruct the seller to use a portion of the total to cover shipping fees. Unfortunately, once the seller deposits the check, the scammer will call the seller (you) repeatedly to demand the seller wire the money back.

If the seller refuses to follow directions, the scammer will usually begin to issue threats, which ultimately creates fear. When that seller gives in and wires the money, the scammer gets their cut, leaving the seller at a potentially major loss. This is because the check was fraudulent, and the wired money was pulled directly from the seller’s bank account balance.

Code Verification

Code verification is another way pretend buyers use to get around the in-app payment process and capitalize on the fake check scam. To start, the “buyer” requests your phone number so they can text a “verification code” to prove you’re who you say you are.

They then say they can’t verify your ID or use the in-app payment method. This provides the excuse needed to send a check. Once received, they ask the seller to deposit it and send a portion back.

Much like the original fake check scam, you’re on the hook for the money you sent.

One Listing, Multiple Accounts

Scammers posing as sellers will often create multiple OfferUp accounts and post the same product listing on each one. Within each account/listing, the scammer will instruct buyers to send an email about making a purchase instead of buying directly on the app.

The “seller” emails buyers back with a request to pay by wire or by purchasing a gift card. Once the buyer sends the money, it is almost impossible to trace the transaction. Your money never gets returned.

In a Rush

In this scenario, the seller claims to be in a big rush to sell the item. They generally invent a clever backstory to show why they need to sell fast. Once the buyer is pulled in, the seller requests them to pay the cost of rushed shipping. In return, the scammer promises the buyer they can make the purchase for a great price.

Once the money is sent, the scammer doesn’t send the item, but instead blocks the buyer. This includes blocking any opportunity to instantly connect or send a message to that account.

Phishing

Phishing is one of the most common scams for stealing OfferUp user logins, sensitive financial info and other personal data. These scams involve creating phony links, ads and websites that entice victims to take the next step. Once they do, they are presented with fake OfferUp app listings they are fooled into believing they can buy.

When customers attempt to buy these items, they are provided a payment form, which asks for their personal information. Once provided, thieves use this to steal their identities and their money.

Of course, this isn’t a comprehensive list of Offerup scams, or scams found or any other marketplace app. But knowing the most common scams out there is definitely a good place to start.

How to avoid OfferUp scammers

Here are six helpful tips for avoiding scammers and OfferUp scams across the site:

Know who you’re buying from

Always do your research and dig into the seller’s OfferUp profile before making a purchase. Sellers with positive reviews and multiple product listings are likely trustworthy and worth buying from. But if you find any accounts with unclear images, duplicate accounts or questionable buyer instructions, it may be wise to steer clear.

Buy through the app only

Buying through the OfferUp app is fully traceable and the safest method for completing an OfferUp transaction. Other methods like money wiring (such as through MoneyGram or Western Union), accepting cashiers checks (or any check), or buying gift cards make it easy for scammers to get your money without getting caught.

Stick with buying local

Reduce the risk of never receiving what you pay for by only buying from local sellers. Buying from someone nearby makes it much easier to verify what you and retrieve the item in the future. On the other hand, buying from a faraway contact opens the window for excuses, increasing the odds you’re facing a scam and will never see the item once you’ve paid.

Never provide personal information

Scammers and strangers live to access your personal info and steal your identity. What’s more: they don’t need much. That’s because a cell phone number or former address is all that’s needed to start the process. No matter what the buyer or seller claims, never hand out personal data like email, phone numbers, or bank account info to anyone, period.

Never pay extra for shipping

Any request to pay extra shipping costs beyond the listed price is usually just a money-making opportunity for fraudsters. This is a giant red flag that should end the transaction immediately.

Be wary of aggressive behavior

Any message or behavior appearing as overly aggressive or pushy may point to a scam – and should raise red flags right away. If the contact begins sending repeated emails, demands or threats during the sale, it may be time to take your business elsewhere.

How do you know if a seller is scamming you?

Fraudsters aren’t always obvious or easy to spot. Yet, there are certain red flags to look for when dealing with others on the app.

Some good signs a seller is trying to scam include:

  • Trying to contact or sell to you outside the OfferUp system. Whatever you think of OfferUp security, the app’s internal messaging system provides the safest way to work with sellers on the platform. The app allows you to communicate with another person without handing out your phone number, email or other compromising info.
  • Sending you an outside link that requires a new log-in. No matter what they’re selling, never click on any link another person sends you during the process – even if it appears to be an OfferUp website.
  • Offering you a service, investment opportunity, something free or way to make money. Avoid any user offering something outside of the sale item or advertising a get-rich-quick opportunity.
  • Requests to be paid outside of the app. Anyone asking you to wire a payment through Western Union, buy a gift card or deposit a cashiers check to complete the sale should be avoided. The site offers payment processors for buyers to cover shipping, and cash is recommended for in person transactions.
  • Any person looking to pay for shipping and follow up with an invoice. All payments and fees for each transaction are clearly listed in the app.
  • Requests to complete business on another site or marketplace, like eBay. Anyone selling on OfferUp but looking to wrap things up on a website like eBay or elsewhere is likely up to no good. This is a major buyer beware and should be avoided at all costs.

Why are there so many scams on OfferUp?

It’s hard to say exactly why there are so many scams on Offerup. Some might argue that OfferUp simply doesn’t do enough to protect real users. And in some situations, they may be right.

Others, however, would argue that scammers are more sophisticated and adaptive than ever. They would add that no level of security is really a match for such a widespread and surging problem.

But no matter the reason, it’s fair to say that education and prevention may be the best tools out there for protecting yourself and steering clear of the scammer trap. Knowing how to spot red flags and when to back away is always an important first step toward achieving peace of mind.

What happens if I get scammed on OfferUp?

If you use the OfferUp service and fall victim to a scam – or spot any suspicious behavior – report the incident to the site as soon as possible. Once you report and block a user, you may still see their items, but you won’t be able to exchange messages.

Also, if you gave out any bank or credit card info at any point during the transaction, be sure to contact your financial service provider right away. Your provider may or may not recommend canceling your account during the process. You might also comb through your bank and credit card statements for suspicious charges. If you find any, report those to your provider immediately.

Finally, remove any personal information listings from the web. Anyone who has gathered your info will likely use it to find more, and data aggregate sites make it all too easy to do so. A trusted personal info removal service may be your best bet to clean your online presence and protect yourself from future attack.

Need personal data removal? Contact a Removal Specialist today or sign up for Your Free Consultation.

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