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How to Avoid Scams if You Sell Online

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Every year, the online marketplace for handmade sellers grows, and so do the scams that threaten this community. As of July 2023, a staggering $3 million had been drained from unsuspecting sellers in Australia thanks to these nefarious activities. Therefore, it is crucial to know how to avoid scams if you sell online.

laptop with browser open to an online shop and ways to avoid scams if you sell online

What Mistakes Can Be Made and How Scammers Work? 

Scammers are constantly evolving their tactics to prey on sellers under the guise of buyers. Let’s take a look at some of the most common mistakes sellers make and what you can do to avoid scams if you sell online.

Mistake #1: Disclosing Your Personal Data

In an attempt to save time with potential buyers, some sellers make the mistake of posting their card details and phone numbers directly in their ads. While this might seem convenient, it opens the door for scammers to exploit. 

How Scammers Can Use It

Having the card number, it is easy to find out the bank that issued the card and the payment system. Presenting themselves as a bank employee, the scammers can coax confidential information out of you and even siphon funds from your account.

How to Avoid

Never post photos of your bank card and documents. Also, avoid including sensitive information such as your card details or your exact address in product descriptions.

Mistake #2: Discuss details with third-party messengers

In some cases, scammers posing as buyers may ask you to take the transaction or conversation to a third-party app, but this can be a dangerous move.

How Scammers Can Use It

Scammers often create deceptive pages that look like bank pages and send links disguised as reliable delivery services. Then, when the seller enters their card details, the scammers are able to gain unauthorized access to your account.

How to Avoid

Discuss the details of the transaction only on the platform where you placed the ad. These sites typically block phishing links which adds an extra layer of security. 

Mistake #3: Handing over the goods before the buyer has paid for them

Sometimes sellers will ship the product before they check to ensure the buyer’s payment has cleared their account.

How Scammers Can Use It

Scammers exploit this eagerness by using demo versions of banking apps or by creating counterfeit websites. They will show a fake transaction on the app screen, tricking sellers into believing they have been paid.

How to Avoid

Always exercise patience. Only ship the goods after you have heard from your bank that the funds have cleared and have been deposited into your account.

When it comes to being able to avoid scams if you sell online, knowledge is your first line of defense. By understanding these scams, you’re already a step ahead in ensuring they don’t happen to you. 

screenshot of a common scam conversation between an online seller and buyer

Payment Methods: A Frequent Target For Fraudsters

In Australia, PayID is the most popular payment service, with 80% of adults using it. Given this popularity, new fraud schemes are constantly emerging, including ones that target online purchases. For example, in 2022 alone, Australians lost more than $260,000 to PayID fraud.

This trend has extended to other areas where PayID is often used including online gambling, traveling, and dating. Therefore, you need to be careful in your choice of where you want to pay via PayID, especially in online pokies.

Quick reference: PayID, introduced in Australia in 2018, streamlines payments by linking bank accounts to phone numbers, emails, or ABNs, verified by the bank. To send money, you need only enter the recipient’s PayID details, with the recipient’s name displayed for confirmation.

How Scammers Exploit PayID and How to Stay Safe

When selling online, a scammer may show interest in buying without haggling or even viewing the item. Then, they’ll insist on payment via PayID, leading the seller into a trap.

Once they have your PayID info, they’ll claim there’s an issue with your account, hinting at an additional payment or upgrades in order to access the funds they’ve supposedly sent. Some will even claim they overpaid and will request reimbursement, pocketing any funds you send.

Beware: These messages mimic genuine PayID messages, even appearing in genuine bank message threads. Always double-check before acting on these messages.

Remember, PayID is free. If someone asks for fees, it’s fishy. Also, banks manage PayID and will never reach out to you directly. Therefore, any “official” PayID message is most likely a sham.

Also, since real buyers typically check out items firsthand, and if they mention sending someone else and refuse cash, be wary.

A woman selecting a Fraud business concept on a futuristic portable computer screen.

Tips for Successful Online Selling

To run a successful online business and to ensure you know how to avoid scams if you sell online, it is important to take into account the following recommendations to help avoid fraudulent actions.

  • Proper contract or public offer. Such a document will regulate all the nuances of the transaction and provide legal protection to both parties.
  • Pay attention to collecting information about your buyer. Knowing enough about the person with whom you are doing business will help you avoid potential disputes and litigation. 
  • Work exclusively with trusted logistics companies that provide insurance services for the goods. At the same time, it is a good practice to pack and assemble parcels under video surveillance. So, in case of disputes, you will have a proof base.
  • The eBay, Etsy, or Poshmark platforms recommend that sellers communicate exclusively through their platforms. If you need to pick up an item in person and are contacting by phone, use a Google Voice number so you can disconnect after the transaction is complete.
  • International scammers often push pity and offer unconventional payment methods. Just hit “delete.” If you choose to offer shipping sponsored by the site or app and follow the app’s protocol, the transaction should be successful.
  • It is important to specify the location/jusrisdiction in the contract. This makes it possible to determine in advance in which court will consider possible disputes between the parties to the contract.


When selling items online, you should always be on your guard. As they say, trust but verify. Constantly expanding your knowledge of e-commerce trends and potential threats. and knowing common fraudulent techniques, such as overpayment scams or PayID fraud, will help you protect yourself from these traps in advance. Have a great sales experience!

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