More than five years since its launch, Facebook Marketplace has become a top online platform for buying and selling in the Philippines. Its rise in popularity and usage is hardly surprising, as its deep integration with the largest social network provides a level of convenience that the competition struggles to match, let alone surpass.
But with its success–with over 1 billion users actively trading worldwide this year–Facebook Marketplace has also become a prime target by scammers. Are you new to the platform? Read the following safety tips to ensure a smooth experience when using the Marketplace.
General Safety Tips on Facebook Marketplace
Get to know about the person with whom you want to do business. Granted, most people you’ll be interacting in the Marketplace are random Facebook users you’ve never met before, but you should still check if the user is legitimate. Know how to spot a user with a burner or fake Facebook account and ignore them.
In many cases, item exchanges are carried out in person as many buyers prefer to inspect the item physically first before paying. Should you decide to meet with the buyer/seller, choose a busy yet safe public location like the mall or police station where there are witnesses of your transaction. Have a friend tag along and inform other people where you’re going.
Do not agree to sudden changes in the meeting location. Ideally, all details of the transaction should be finalized during your conversations online. The only thing that should happen during the meeting is the exchange of the item and payment. The exchange should be done simultaneously so that the other party does not simply dash away with the money or item and leave you empty-handed.
If your local area is facing a health issue, follow the existing rules and guidelines placed by the local authorities to prevent contracting or spreading diseases. Wearing a mask and using hand sanitizers regularly are two effective ways to keep germs at bay.
For when meetups are not possible, always settle on a cash-on-delivery payment method for shipments. Use trusted courier services that offer buyer/seller protection. Here are some courier services in the Philippines that can be used for buying and selling previously loved items:
- LBC Cash on Delivery Service
- Grab Express Delivery
- Angkas Padala
- Mr. Speedy
Keep all communications within the messaging feature of Facebook Marketplace as much as possible. Don’t agree to move the conversation outside the platform. If you need to provide a phone number, better get a secondary line as your dedicated number for the Marketplace. At best, the only instance you’ll need to give away your phone number is for you to coordinate with the other party during meetups.
Withhold disclosing any personal information that isn’t necessary for buying/selling the item. The other party does not need to know your marital status, how many lives in your home, and other private matters. Should the other person request for such details, do not proceed any further with the transaction. In transactions that do not end well, disgruntled people might use your personal information to track you down and harass you.
Buyer Safety Tips in Facebook Marketplace
Always ask for details of the items before committing to a purchase. Make sure the item is a legitimate product. Watch out for any item descriptions that seem bogus or inconsistent. Stay away from items with listed prices that are obviously too good to be true. When buying a used item, ask for any damages and if the item remains in working condition.
To help you give a clearer idea of the item’s condition, ask for as many photos as possible about the item at different angles. Ask for photos showing the serial and model numbers. With more photos and details, you can feel assured the item you’re buying isn’t bogus or that the scammer isn’t ripping you off. Avoid sellers who are not honest with the items they’re selling, like those who refuse to show or provide current photos (not just official stock images) of the item.
Verify if the seller is the owner of the item or authorized to sell the item on the owner’s behalf.
Ask for the receipt of the item. See if details in the receipt match the ones printed on the item itself. Avoid buying stolen goods to avoid violating the country’s anti-fencing law.
Buy items at your own risk. If you end up with a faulty item or one that’s completely different from what you expected, your chance of getting your money back is slim. As it is, Facebook Marketplace has little to no buyer protection in the Philippines.
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Seller Safety Tips on Facebook
Do not sell counterfeit items or prohibited products, no matter how sought after or profitable the items are. Do not create duplicate listings in the hopes of reaching more prospective buyers.
Your account may be disabled or banned by Facebook, or for worse violations you may be apprehended by the authorities.
Some buyers can be too aggressive. They may, for instance, keep pressuring you to take their offer immediately, send too many messages, or even send friend requests. Do not easily give in to their demands; instead, carefully assess if entertaining them or the offer they’re making is worth the trouble. Cancel meetups even at the slightest misgivings; your own safety is important.
Always use cash-on-delivery as the payment method as much as possible, as fraudulent buyers may be able to cancel their payment when using other methods even if the item is already being shipped to them.
If you intend to become a regular seller on Facebook Marketplace, you need to achieve and maintain a good reputation with a high user rating on your seller/commerce profile. Fair pricing, good communication, and being professional are some ways to encourage buyers to give you a good rating.
What to Do If You Get Scammed
With your best judgment and common sense, you should be fine dealing with random people on Facebook Marketplace. But in the unfortunate event that you get victimized by fraudulent behavior, here are your options for reporting the buyer/seller:
- DTI Philippines
- PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group
Don’t look for confrontation all by yourself. Instead, seek assistance from the authorities. They can help you catch scammers through an entrapment operation.