5 Warnings About Buying and Selling on Facebook Marketplace, Experts Say
Consider these factors before using the platform.
If you're always on the lookout for a deal, chances are you've spent some time on Facebook Marketplace. Whether you're redecorating your living room and looking for the perfect antique accent table or have decided to get in shape and are in the market for a stationary bike that won't break the bank, you're likely to find what you're looking for on the platform—and probably even some things you aren't.
And if you're of the mindset that when you bring something new into the house, something has got to go—selling on Facebook Marketplace could not be easier. But even though it has surpassed Craigslist as the go-to site for buying and selling used wares, it is certainly not without its issues. Read on for some warnings you should be aware of before you use Facebook Marketplace.
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Be mindful of your personal safety when you meet in person.
Facebook Marketplace offers both local pickup and shipped items. If you are going to close the deal in person, there are things you need to be mindful of—including your personal safety.
You should always find a well-lit pick-up location and avoid going alone, Amanda Manera, founder of The Resale Doctor blog, tells Best Life. She says police stations have spots for these meet-ups.
For porch pickups (where you're not meeting the other person directly), the rules differ depending on whether you're the buyer or the seller. Buyers picking up from someone's home should clue a family member or friend in on their location, Manera says. On the flip side, if you're leaving an item on your porch for pickup, this is one instance where you'll want to have a buyer pay you ahead of time.
If you prefer to ship items as a seller or have them mailed to you as a buyer, take caution when giving out your address or your phone number. Both can be used by bad actors to "track you down," according to Ben Michael, attorney of M & A Criminal Defense Attorneys.
You run the risk of getting scammed if you want an item shipped.
While Samuel Park, tech expert and founder of TechMaestro.co, says to but "stick to in-person meet-ups for secure transactions," you may find something you've been looking for forever that is just not in your area. If this is the case, be sure to do you due diligence to make sure the deal is legit. In the digital age, it's that much easier for bad actors to scam you—and that's no different with Facebook Marketplace.
"According to consumer reviews, buyers often don't receive the purchase or receive the wrong products, not as described in the listing," Michael Podolsky, CEO and co-founder of PissedConsumer.com. "We've seen claims shared by consumers about stolen photos from other accounts with changed prices that intend to lure potential customers into scams."
Park says this is why you want to see the item before you hand over any of your hard-earned money. "A golden rule for buyers: Wait to pay before getting the item," he says. "Always give the item a good look-over before sealing the deal. I learned this the hard way after buying a picture-perfect blender that was faulty."
On the flip side, don't get labeled as a scammer yourself. As a seller, be sure to accurately describe the state your item is in. "Fudging the truth about your item's condition will only annoy buyers and harm your reputation," Park cautions. "Trust me; I've seen damaged items falsely labeled as 'lightly used.'"
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Avoid communicating outside of Facebook.
Experts also warn that you should confine your communication with buyers or sellers to Facebook.
"Many of the common Facebook Marketplace scams involve taking the conversation off of Facebook Marketplace in some way," Ann Martin, director of operations for CreditDonkey, says. "Buyers or sellers who ask for your phone number, and then to send them a six-digit code, are some of the most prevalent scammers."
Michael stresses this as well, explaining that a scammer will say this six-digit code is being used to verify you're a "real person." However, their real intent is to use the code to access one of your accounts—like Facebook or a bank account.
There aren't many options for help if something goes wrong.
If you do get scammed (we've all been there), chances are you're going to want to take it up with customer support. But that's another area where Facebook Marketplace is lacking, Podolsky tells Best Life.
"Thousands of consumers online share their frustration with Facebook Marketplace claiming that the platform ignores requests for help," he says. "The platform uses automatic algorithms for verification and reporting that often challenge its users and cause issues with accounts. Not every user problem can be resolved automatically, so consumers get stuck with their complaints because Facebook customer service fails to provide timely assistance."
Reviews left on PissedConsumer.com echo this, with a user writing, "Don't use marketplace because your possessions are at risk of being stolen…and good luck calling and trying to get something easily fixed. I couldn't imagine if I had a real serious problem you guys would probably shut the phones off on me…"
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Your account could be blocked.
If you've ever forgotten your password and been locked out of an account, you know how frustrating that can be. Websites and apps have these security measures in place to keep your information safe (just in case it's not actually you who entered different passwords). However, Facebook Marketplace's software sometimes blocks users for no reason at all.
"We see that a high number of complaints left by consumers on our website concern blocked accounts," Podolsky explains. "Users often don't know the reasons for sudden blocking and it is unclear to them why they were kicked off the platform. That is a serious problem for a business that relies on Facebook Marketplace for marketing."
Also, if you're a seller, being locked out or blocked can also jeopardize your reputation with customers.
"When paying for the service, consumers expect to be able to use it and get help when needed," Podolsky says. "Instead, they lose access to their business pages."