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CLASSIFIEDS, AUCTIONS and INTERNET TRANSACTIONS
FRAUD PREVENTION TIPS

Click here for: Fraud Tips from the Internet Fraud Complaint Center

TIPS FOR THE SELLER:

TIPS FOR THE BUYER:

Roadfly provides as a service to its users a Classifieds system and a Daily Deals system. Because of the volume of traffic these services receive, it is inevitable that some instances of fraud or deception may take place. Roadfly assumes no responsibility for any instances of fraud, deception or scams, but we can offer these helpful tips and Safe Transaction Tips.


TIPS FOR THE SELLER:

1. Talk with your buyer. Establish correspondence with your buyer, especially if you're selling an expensive item. By opening a line of communication, you will hopefully have a means by which to contact the buyer, should a problem arise with the transaction. Good communication will also build confidence with the buyer, and both parties should have a better sales experience.

2. Agree to Terms of Payment. Roadfly has received complaints from buyers and sellers alike regarding fraudulent or failed payment transactions. We address specific examples in Section 5. Roadfly suggests the buyer and seller agree upon an exact price (including shipping charges) for the merchandise before any money exchanges hands. If, as a seller, you receive a payment for hundreds or thousands of dollars more than the agreed upon price, alarm bells should be ringing (see Section 5: Fraud and Scams). There's a good chance fraud may be involved.

When receiving payment by check, money order or by any other "paper" means, Roadfly strongly suggests steps be taken to make sure the payment has fully cleared your bank's system before shipping merchandise or spending any of the funds received. Communicate this policy clearly to your buyer beforehand so that neither party is surprised by the transaction.

Contrary to popular belief, many popular auction payment systems do not offer adequate levels of fraud protection. It's largely the responsibility of the buyer and seller to protect themselves against fraud. A quick Google search will reveal more information about common problems with the various payment systems available.


3. Before you ship. Before you ship anything to anyone, take a few moments to help protect yourself against disputes by documenting a few key things.
a) Save any correspondence you've had with the buyer for future reference
b) Document any serial numbers or other markings that will identify authenticity
c) Confirm the shipping address of the buyer. Be wary of someone who pays from one address and requests the merchandise be shipped to another location.
d) If the buyer has paid with a check or money order, make sure it clears the bank before shipping. Communicate this policy to your buyer beforehand.
e) Package your merchandise securely to prevent damage during shipping.


f) When shipping, always utilize a tracking method and insurance, regardless of the buyer's wishes. Spending an extra few dollars of your own money to insure and track the package can prevent months of headaches should a problem arise.
g) Once the merchandise has shipped, supply the buyer with a tracking number so that he or she can track the merchandise.


4. Shipping. While a few of these items were addressed in the previous section, it's important to restate a few key points:

a) Package your item securely and properly. Take adequate means to prevent damage that may occur during shipping. Fragile items should be double boxed for best results, and proper padding and filler should always be used.
b) Use shipping insurance and tracking to protect yourself. The insurance will be invaluable if the item is lost or damaged while in transit. The tracking provides proof of delivery.
c) Be prompt with supplying your buyer with information about the shipping process. Good communication solves most problems - provide the buyer with a tracking number as soon as it's available to you.


5. Fraud and Scams. These are some common examples of Internet fraud that we've become aware of. For more information, for questions or to report an instance of Internet fraud, visit the United States Government's Internet Fraud Complaint Center.

Overpayment Scam. In this very common scam, a buyer will contact the seller and negotiate a deal on the merchandise. Many times, this buyer is located outside of the United States, and may be acting as a "broker" or a "third party" on behalf of another interested party. The buyer will send a cashier's check (or money order) for more than the asking price of the merchandise. The buyer will instruct the seller to send the difference for the overpayment. Unfortunately, the cashier's check or money order used to originally pay the buyer is counterfeit and will be returned to the seller with insufficient funds. The seller is then cheated out of his or her own cash, plus any merchandise that was sent. For more information on this type of scam, please see the IFCC warning.

Wire fraud. In this scam, the buyer will request permission to wire transfer money directly into the seller's bank account. By providing confidential bank account information to the buyer, your account may be compromised by unscrupulous parties. Always use caution when providing any form of personal information.

Customs scams. There are recent reports from the IFCC involving Eastern European countries and high incidences of fraud. Many of the fraudulent buyers of items are located in these countries and often ask that the seller ship in a manner that will avoid customs or taxes. Sellers should be wary of this type of behavior.

You can find more information about protecting yourself from fraud and online transaction problems at the IFCC's website. This link will take you to the IFCC's press room, where you can learn more about the recent and more popular online scams.


TIPS FOR THE BUYER:

1. Talk with the seller. Know exactly what you're buying, its condition, the final price (including shipping and handling), payment terms, shipping timeframe, and refund or dispute recourse options. Establishing good communication with the seller will help both of you have a better online sale experience.

Whenever possible, try to confirm the identity and location of the seller. Don't rely on a Post Office box address, a website, an e-mail address or a cell phone number for identification. Try to obtain and verify a physical address and a working phone number. Call the seller to confirm the phone number works, and ask for any references if applicable. When possible, follow-up on those references before you buy, and always ask any questions about a product BEFORE you buy.

2. Payment Terms. Agree to your payment terms completely before finalizing any transaction. If you're paying by check, money order or cashier's check, realize that the seller may have to hold the check for at least 10 business days to verify the funds. Many sellers may not accept PayPal or other similar payment services, so be sure to discuss payment terms before you finalize the transaction to avoid any confusion or misinterpretation.

3. Shipping. Many sellers will charge a shipping fee that is greater than the "actual cost" to ship an item. Roadfly feels this practice is fair, as the shipping fee should cover time and materials to package and ship the item as well as the actual shipping charge as charged by the courier. Be sure to discuss any shipping charges with the seller, and always request a tracking number and insurance for your items. Spending a few extra dollars to ensure the safe and timely delivery of your merchandise is always money well spent. Request that the seller send you a tracking number as soon as possible after the item is shipped.

4. Escrow. For expensive merchandise (items costing more than $500), it's often wise to use a verified, reputable, escrow service for the transaction. The escrow service will take your payment and hold it securely until your merchandise arrives. Once you've received the merchandise, the escrow service pays the seller on your behalf. There is a slight fee for this service, so if the seller won't accept escrow, offer to split the escrow costs with the seller.

5. Fraud and Scams. It's a sad fact, but fraud and scams run rampant on the Internet. You need to take precautions to help protect yourself from being scammed or defrauded. The US Government has set-up a website to address Internet fraud, and it's available here. Take a few moments to review their guidelines and suggestions, and familiarize yourself with various examples of frauds and scams.

Some of the more popular scams involve the compromise of your personal information (bank accounts, credit cards, and so on). Always take measures to protect this information. Other scams involve entities that are misrepresenting the item they're selling. Asking specific questions about authenticity, serial numbers, etc., can often separate the legit from the non-legit. Do your part to protect yourself - if you feel like a deal is too good to be true, it usually is.

Roadfly has had issues with Group Buy problems in the past, and always suggests that the consumer be especially careful with any group buy offer. Many times, the buyer sends money to the group buy organizer and never receives any merchandise. Other times, the merchandise is not as described. If you decide to participate in a group buy, take some time to research the purchase. Contact the manufacturer of the product and ask for specific information about the product being offered via the group buy. Contact the organizer, and request that an escrow service be used for the transfer of funds. Get specific contact information, and specific ship dates. Confirm all shipping costs. Ask about refunds and exchanges, should the item not arrive as described. Finally, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless Roadfly for any activity related to group buys, discounts or special offers.

You can find more information about protecting yourself from fraud and online transaction problems at the IFCC's website. This link will take you to the IFCC's press room, where you can learn more about the recent and more popular online scams.


Other Resources on Internet Fraud


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