When selling on eBay, always use PayPal, Davidson said, which offers you the most protection from fraud. If you’re hawking something on your local Craigslist, try to meet the buyer (always at a safe location) and request payment in cash. Other forms of payment such as wire transfers or cashiers checks are “huge red flags,” according to Davidson.
Cashiers checks, in particular, should be avoided at all costs because they are so easily counterfeited, Davidson said. If someone pays you with one, the bank will cash it because they have to, but it won’t clear for 7-10 days – and if it’s fake, you will be the one left holding the bag because the bank won’t take responsibility for it.
One scam that Davidson highlighted involves buyers sending cashiers checks as payment for an amount higher than the cost of the item or service. Typically, they ask the seller to cash the check and send them back the difference and it is not until the check bounces that the seller realizes they’ve been conned.
Whether you’re a frequent seller or just trying to make some extra cash once in a while, you should be familiar with the fraud alert sections of eBay and Craigslist, Davidson said. There you will find the latest popular scams so you know what to look out for. While auction sites like eBay have been known to bring in the authorities in some cases of fraud, it is extremely rare that sellers get their money back, Davidson said. So look for the red flags up front and always be cautious. You should be just as wary if you’re selling something online as you are if you’re buying, Carmen added.