Lately I’ve been hanging out at this Facebook group that features more than 100,000 Davao-based buyers and sellers. The group’s name is Davao Online Businesses (Davao Sale). Transactions are often finalized online (bookings and reservations) but some of the actual buying and paying happens in person through a meet-up, or through the good old bank deposit/ money transfer and shipping.
I’ve also seen a few rants about bogus buyers, those who reserve items and not end up getting them but the more alarming kind is the one about scammers. Turns out, we have a lot of them. And no matter how long online buying and selling has been around, people still fall victims to their ploys.
I have never been scammed online. And I helped a few friends ensure the safety of some thousand pesos because I gave away the red flags on how to detect a (potential) scam. Here are some things you could also practice:
Check Out the Seller
Even if you’re dealing with someone just online and you don’t really know each other, ask for his/ her personal Facebook account. Just nicely tell that person that you want to know him/ her personally before doing the transaction. Most people understand that this is a safetynet, and most legit sellers would be glad to add you to their friend’s list without question. See if you have mutual friends and see if it’s a legit account. If you are worried about having a messy Facebook page after a few transactions, remember that you can always unfriend after the transaction, anyway.
Look at the account and monitor its activity. You must be able to see the accounts of his friends commenting on events, photos and status messages, and his face must be present in at least 10 photos. If you’re buying through a forum, see how much feedback that seller has and how long his account has been active. If it’s just a recently opened one, watch out for other red flags.
This is really crucial if you’re buying a second hand gadget or luxury item. Ask questions about the purchase, when the purchase was done, issues, history of repair, et cetera. A smart buyer will not be embarrassed to ask questions. If you think that the seller is scrimping on his/ her answers, then don’t proceed. Just stop replying. Let’s see how bent he is really in selling his item.
Moreover, it’s also good to ask for actual photos of the item before you order. Sometimes, even asking for actual photos won’t work for shipping because they will ship a different item.
I sell my events and PR services there, as well as my bouquet delivery service and balloon arrangements. I always answer every question nicely, even if the sale hasn’t commenced yet. Who knows, when they’re ready to buy, they will remember me because we had a good talk when we had the chance. I hope all the other sellers do the same and not assume that because someone didn’t push through with your product or service, you already brand them as bogus or worse, cheap.
Don’t erase your texts, your message thread, your comments so that you can have hold of your conversation whatever happens after. Make sure that you establish clear obligation and a meeting of minds. Make all agreements clear, confirm and reconfirm.
When in Doubt, Don’t Proceed
You’ve probably heard this before but I’ll say it again for emphasis: if it’s too good to be true, then it probably is. Watch out for “rush sales”, prices that are too low for something original and dubious shipping and money transfer “rules” by the seller. There’s a seller here in Davao who scammed a few people in that group and even if they claim to be just living in Davao, they insist on shipping the item. Turns out, they were claiming to sell original Raybans and Ipanemas but they’re actually selling fake ones. Just save your money for something more secure or better yet, hit the malls for a safer, multi-sensual shopping experience.
When you’re finally doing the meet-up—especially if you still don’t trust the person because the Facebook account had little activity—you may bring a MOA or a contract that CLEARLY STATES what you’re buying (complete with descriptions, size, model, and some serial number), how much you’re buying it for and the EXACT CONDITION of the item when you get it. If it’s a luxury item and you need it authenticated, don’t hesitate to meet up in a mall, and/or a place near a pawnshop. You can also let the seller know about this beforehand so you’ll see if he’s really legit. If you think this is too much, a simple acknowledgement receipt with the expected condition of the item is fine.
In a very nice way, you can also offer your ID to show proof of your identity. After you do this, you may also ask for his/hers. It’s also best to meet up at a place where there’s CCTV. For this, I recommend mall-based coffee shops or hotel cafes.
You don’t need to appear like a paranoid person while doing this. In fact, you may skip some steps if you already feel like you know 101% that you can trust the person. For me, as soon as I see a legit Facebook profile and (preferably) a few mutual friends, I already feel okay. Generally, I don’t do shipping unless the website/ FB Page is super legit, with proofs of transactions and heavy online activity.
That’s it for safe online business transactions. Hope you can share this with everyone so we can save a few more thousands of pesos off these shameless scammers. Keep safe!
Got more tips? Click the COMMENT button and share. Thanks in advance! 🙂