9 Common OfferUp scams in 2024 and how to avoid them

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Scammers have found ways to trick people on various selling platforms, including OfferUp. They use different methods to deceive users and take advantage of them. This happens on platforms like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and OfferUp. To help you stay safe, here are some common scams on OfferUp and tips to recognize and prevent falling victim to them.

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What’s OfferUp all about?

OfferUp is an app where people can easily sell things by taking pictures, adding a price, and a short description. Buyers can look through pictures, discuss prices, and arrange to buy items in person or through shipping. Sellers also have the option to pay to make their items more visible in search results.

However, while using OfferUp, some scams might be encountered. However, with the right knowledge, these scams can be avoided.

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Lifelock

All-in-one protection from identity theft, credit cards, scams, and online threats for you and your loved ones. In the unfortunate event of a breach, you are protected by a $3,000,000 insurance policy, covering eligible losses stemming from identity theft.

How do you know if someone is scamming you on OfferUp?

Identifying a potential scam on OfferUp can often be recognized through certain behaviors that raise suspicion. It’s important to be cautious of individuals engaging in the following actions:

  • Communication or Transactions Outside the Platform: If someone tries to steer communication away from the OfferUp messaging system or suggests completing a transaction off the platform, it could be a red flag. Transactions conducted outside the app are not protected by OfferUp’s safeguards.
  • Requesting Verification Codes: Be cautious if someone asks you for verification codes or personal information. Scammers may use this information to gain unauthorized access to your account.
  • Sending Suspicious Links: If you receive links that seem questionable or lead to unfamiliar websites, exercise caution. These links could potentially contain malware or lead to phishing sites aimed at stealing your personal information.
  • Poor Quality Photos: If the photos of the items for sale are unclear, blurry, or seem altered, it might indicate a scam. Scammers sometimes use stock photos or low-quality images to deceive buyers about the actual condition of the item.
  • Pressuring for a Quick Transaction: Individuals who rush or pressure you into completing a sale or purchase hastily might be attempting to prevent you from thoroughly considering the transaction. Take your time to review the details and ensure everything is as described.
  • Unusual Transaction Requests: Any request for a transaction method that deviates from the typical OfferUp process should raise caution. This includes unusual payment methods or requests to meet in an unconventional location.

Being vigilant and recognizing these warning signs can help you avoid potential scams on OfferUp and protect yourself from fraudulent activities.

Common OfferUp scams

OfferUp is a well-known platform many people use, but it’s important to be cautious because there are possible scams. These scams often involve deceitful practices related to shipping, payments, or listings that seem too good to be true.

It’s highly advisable to stay informed about these common scams specific to OfferUp to avoid dishonest individuals trying to deceive you. To help you be more aware, here are the 3 most common scams to be cautious of when using OfferUp:

  1. Shipping scams: Some scammers might offer to ship items but never send them after receiving payment.
  2. Payment scams: They may use fraudulent payment methods or fake transactions to trick buyers or sellers.
  3. Unbelievable deals: Listings that offer incredible deals might be fake or non-existent, aiming to lure people into a scam.

Remaining vigilant and familiarizing yourself with these potential scams will greatly reduce the risk of falling victim to fraudulent activities while using OfferUp. Here are more common scams to watch out for:

1. Fake accounts

Fake accounts are online profiles created by individuals with false information. To prevent problems, it’s wise to check a seller’s history. If they have many listings and positive reviews, it’s generally a positive indicator. However, be cautious of profiles lacking reviews or duplicating information from other profiles.

Additionally, watch for accounts with negative ratings and reviews, as they might not be trustworthy. Being vigilant about these signs can help you avoid potential scams or unreliable sellers when making online transactions.

2. Fake cash or checks

This advice aims to help sellers on OfferUp stay safe when conducting transactions. When meeting buyers face-to-face, it’s recommended to accept cash for purchases, as there’s a risk of receiving counterfeit bills. To verify the authenticity of U.S. banknotes, the Federal Reserve oversees the U.S. Currency Education Program, which offers the Cash Assist mobile app.

It’s strongly advised never to accept checks as payment. Scammers might provide fake checks, which can lead to a situation where the check bounces, leaving you without the item sold and potentially incurring a fee from your bank due to the bounced check.

3. Overpayment scams

Overpayment scams occur when transactions are made on platforms like OfferUp. It’s important to stick to the app’s payment system for shipping deals.

If you receive an overpayment or an alternative form of payment exceeding the agreed amount, and the sender asks for a refund of the excess, be cautious. Often, the initial payment turns out to be fraudulent, leaving you at a loss after you’ve refunded the overpaid amount.

Additionally, be cautious of buyers who request using a different shipping carrier or sending items to an alternate address. These requests could signal potential scams.

4. Google Voice verification code scam

The Google Voice Verification Code Scam works like this: Someone might request your phone number, claiming it’s to send you a Google Voice verification code as a security measure to confirm your identity. But here’s the catch – they’re tricking you. If you share that code with them, they can use it to link a Google Voice number to your phone.

Once linked, they could create fake accounts or access sensitive information from your device, leading to potential theft or misuse of your personal data. It’s essential to never share verification codes or sensitive information with anyone you don’t trust to protect yourself from falling victim to this scam.

5. Additional shipping costs

“Additional Shipping Costs” refers to extra charges for delivering items purchased through OfferUp. These costs are managed within the OfferUp app itself. Some scammers on OfferUp may try to deceive buyers by claiming that an item requires more money for shipping.

However, OfferUp clearly outlines its shipping fees and rules on its website. To avoid falling victim to this scam, it’s crucial to be cautious of sellers who insist on additional shipping costs beyond what OfferUp specifies. If a seller attempts this, it’s best to avoid the transaction altogether.

6. Fake websites

Fake websites, created by scammers, mimic legitimate platforms like OfferUp. These fraudulent sites often look identical to the real ones and are used to trick people. Scammers may send emails containing links to these fake websites.

When you try to make a purchase on these fake sites, you end up giving your login details and payment information directly to the scammer. Unfortunately, despite making a payment, you won’t receive the item you intended to purchase.

To protect yourself, it’s advisable to stick to the official OfferUp website or app that is authenticated and avoid clicking on links provided by users. Following this general rule can help prevent falling victim to these scams.

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7. Listings that are too good to be true

Listings that seem too good to be true often signal potential scams. For instance, if a seller is offering a brand-new, high-end iPhone for an unusually low price like $50, it’s likely a red flag. Scammers use such offers to lure buyers into wiring money before delivering the item.

Once they receive the payment, they disappear without sending the promised product. This tactic aims to trick buyers into paying for something they’ll never actually receive, leaving them out of both money and the desired item.

8. Paying outside OfferUp

When using OfferUp for transactions that involve shipping, it’s advisable to stick to the app’s payment processing system rather than paying through alternative methods. Sellers might ask for payments in ways such as gift cards, certified checks, or using apps like Venmo, Cash App, or wire transfers.

However, these methods can be harder to trace, increasing the risk of being scammed and making it difficult to recover your money if something goes wrong. Stick to the app’s recommended payment process to ensure safer transactions.

9. One seller account with multiple listings of the same item

When a seller creates several listings of the same item on platforms like OfferUp, it’s often a tactic used by scammers. These scammers aim to lure multiple victims simultaneously. They might duplicate their postings to manage various interested buyers at once.

This kind of deceit is called the “multiple listings scam.” Scammers might employ different methods, such as posting identical listings across various online platforms or creating multiple accounts on the same platform to repost the same item.

Here are some warning signs to watch out for:

  • Spotting multiple listings for the same item with identical photos and descriptions.
  • Conducting a reverse Google image search reveals the same listings on other online marketplaces.
  • The seller’s account is new or has a history of poor ratings.
  • Legitimate sellers usually don’t need to repeatedly post the same item across platforms.

These warning signs can help identify potential scams when encountering multiple listings of the same item from a seller.

10. Empty box or “box only” listings

Fraudulent listings on platforms like OfferUp may display a full box of products for sale, aiming to deceive buyers by creating the impression of a great deal on multiple valuable items. However, once a purchase is made, buyers receive an empty box instead of the promised products.

Scammers rely on the trust of unsuspecting buyers who might not be cautious when browsing listings on OfferUp. They count on buyers believing the description without verifying or noticing the absence of actual item pictures.

Warning signs of these scams include listings promoting a bundle deal with only a photo of the box itself and the absence of any images displaying the items mentioned in the description. Buyers should be vigilant and cautious when encountering such listings to avoid falling victim to these deceptive practices.

Can you trust OfferUp?

Absolutely! Trust in OfferUp, like with any other selling platform, can raise concerns due to various reported scams. However, OfferUp isn’t notably more or less susceptible to fraudsters compared to other similar platforms like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, eBay, or Poshmark. Conducting a simple online search will uncover warnings about scams across various platforms, showing that such risks are not exclusive to OfferUp alone.

It’s essential to remain cautious and vigilant when using any online marketplace. While there are scam risks, it doesn’t imply that you won’t encounter genuine and reliable deals on OfferUp. Users can indeed find legitimate transactions and trustworthy sellers on the platform amidst the potential for fraudulent activities.

Does OfferUp provide protection for buyers?

OfferUp offers a form of protection for buyers through its 2-Day Purchase Protection policy. This allows buyers to report issues if they receive items that are incorrect, missing, or not as described.

They have a two-day window to make a complaint about the transaction. If the buyer and seller can’t resolve the problem together, buyers can request a refund through OfferUp.

However, this protection doesn’t cover in-person transactions or transactions conducted outside of OfferUp’s platform. While you might have success getting your claim approved, it’s advisable to steer clear of risky transactions altogether to ensure a smoother experience.

Is it safe to give your address on OfferUp?

It’s generally safe to provide your address on OfferUp if you’re using the platform’s “Ship to Me” option for making purchases. This option requires confirming your shipping address as part of the purchase offer.

However, it’s important to note that OfferUp advises against sharing your home address or any personal information with others on the platform unless necessary for a “Ship to Me” transaction. This caution helps protect your privacy and safety by minimizing the sharing of sensitive details with strangers on the platform.

What to do if you’ve been scammed

If you find yourself a victim of a scam on OfferUp, there are several steps you can take:

  1. Request a Refund: As a buyer, you have the option to file a claim for any purchase that was shipped. Before filing a claim, it’s advised to initially request a refund from the seller. OfferUp recommends attempting to resolve the issue directly before escalating it to a claim.
  2. Anonymous Reporting: Use the OfferUp app to anonymously report any prohibited items or behavior that seems suspicious or offensive. This helps maintain a safe environment for all users of the platform.
  3. Report Criminal Activity: In cases where you believe criminal activity has occurred, don’t hesitate to contact the police. Once you’ve made a report to law enforcement, it’s essential to ask the investigating officer to get in touch with OfferUp and provide a case number or event ID. This cooperation allows OfferUp to collaborate with law enforcement in addressing the issue effectively.

By taking these steps, you can increase the likelihood of resolving the situation and potentially prevent others from falling victim to similar scams on the platform.

Lifelock

Lifelock

All-in-one protection from identity theft, credit cards, scams, and online threats for you and your loved ones. In the unfortunate event of a breach, you are protected by a $3,000,000 insurance policy, covering eligible losses stemming from identity theft.

How to avoid OfferUp scams

Avoiding scams on OfferUp involves several key steps to protect yourself:

  1. Understand OfferUp’s Operation: Familiarize yourself with how OfferUp functions. This knowledge helps identify suspicious behavior or transaction requests.
  2. Stay Within the App: Always communicate and conduct transactions solely within the OfferUp app. Avoid interacting with buyers or sellers outside the platform as it raises the risk of scams.
  3. Review Ratings and Reviews: Prior to making deals, check the ratings and reviews of potential buyers or sellers on OfferUp. This information provides insights into their trustworthiness.
  4. Stay Informed About Scams: Keep yourself updated on the latest scams circulating on online selling platforms. Awareness of new tactics helps you recognize potential threats.
  5. Trust Your Gut: If something seems suspicious or makes you uneasy about a buyer, seller, or transaction, trust your instincts and avoid it. It’s better to be cautious than to fall victim to a scam.

By following these steps, you can significantly reduce the chances of falling prey to scams while using OfferUp.

The bottom line

The bottom line is to ensure your safety while buying and selling on OfferUp. Scammers are skilled at bypassing safety measures in place. Rather than solely relying on online platforms for protection, follow these key guidelines for safe internet shopping:

  • Account Security: Set up two-factor authentication (2FA) and use a password manager to create strong, unique passwords.
  • Shop on Secure Websites: Only use secure websites for transactions and avoid saving login/payment details on eCommerce platforms.
  • Avoid Suspicious Links: Refrain from clicking on suspicious links, especially those from text messages or emails.
  • Image Verification: Conduct reverse image searches for listings on online marketplaces to verify the authenticity of photos.
  • Check Shipping Costs: Verify shipping fees on listings to ensure the seller isn’t overcharging.
  • Use Marketplace Communication and Payments: Communicate and process payments only through the marketplace platform itself.
  • Review Seller Profiles: Scrutinize seller profiles and be cautious of new accounts, multiple identical listings, and negative reviews.
  • Protect Personal Information: Safeguard your identity by limiting access to your personal information.