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4 Ways to Avoid Scammers in Your Online Selling Business

By Mark Ching
How can you avoid those pesky scammers online? Here are some tips.

Every single day, we hear news about scammers, vile individuals who target online sellers to make a quick buck. It is understandable how hearing about these cases would make anyone interested in online selling hesitate, so that they would choose not to enter the business opportunity altogether.

Fear not, however, because there are ways to protect yourselves from scammers.

1. Make sure you get paid

This is obvious, but still needs to be said: do not ship your goods without first securing the payment for them.

The other day, I read about an online seller who shipped out the books that he was selling to a female customer that promised to pay later. The seller did this out of trust; the buyer gave him this story that she had temporary money troubles. She said she would receive her salary in the upcoming days so she could still pay for the books.

Eventually, the seller received a notification from the shipping company that the buyer had received the books. But when he was about to message her, he found out that she already blocked him on Messenger.

Avoid this heartbreak by making sure that you get paid no matter what. You should ask the customer to send you the payment first, either via digital transfer or bank deposit, before you ship out your goods to them.

2. Utilize Pabili, COP or COD services

What if the buyer implies that they do not trust you so they won’t send the payment first? Easy. There are still several ways to complete this transaction.

One, you can offer to meet the buyer so that they can hand you the cash in person.

Two, you can ask the buyer to utilize a service like Grab Pabili, where they can ask a delivery rider on the Grab app to meet you on their behalf. The Grab rider will use their own cash to buy the item from you, then they will deliver it to the buyer who will in turn reimburse the rider.

Do note though that the Grab Pabili service can still be open to scammers. There is news of buyers who would book a Grab rider for the Pabili service but would not meet them for the reimbursement. Due to this, you may be forced to take back the item from the rider and give their money back.

Three, you can use Cash on Pickup and Cash on Delivery by LBC. The logistics company will keep your parcel safe and will only release it to the buyer if they give them the payment. If the buyer does not show up, LBC will just ship your item back to you.

3. Do a customer check

Selling your items via Facebook marketplace is a double-edged sword. Sure, your customers are already on the platform so you have the unlimited reach, but Facebook is also full of fake accounts and scammers.

Always err on the side of caution and make a cursory check of your potential buyer’s Facebook profile before completing the sale. If the Facebook profile has no public details or photos, that could be a red flag. New accounts that have been made recently could also be suspicious. You can also search for their name just to see if any seller has already posted an alert about them.

You can also choose to join Facebook groups that facilitate buying and selling for a particular category. The Facebook group for video games that I am in, for example, have moderators who vet potential members first before adding them to the group. This way, I am sure that potential buyers in that group are trustworthy.

4. Repeat buyers are the most ideal

Lastly, you should make an effort to cultivate advocates.

In marketing terms, advocates are customers who were so satisfied with your product that they will keep buying from you. They are also willing to promote your goods to their friends and family, who will definitely be legitimate buyers themselves.

How can you have advocates? Try going the extra mile to delight your customers. Send something extra, like a hand-written note or a low-cost item.

Scammers need to dampen your desire to start an online selling business. Do know that there are ways to protect yourself from these issues, and that there is nothing to be afraid of as long as you keep cautious.

Mark Ching is the Marketing and Design Head of iRipple. He previously worked in various roles in Imonggo for 10 years, starting as a customer support officer then later as a product manager.
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