Auction safety

Criminals are now using the internet to trick money out of innocent buyers. Use these top tips to stay safe when buying or selling online.

Auction website tips

  • Do not respond to emails from online auction sites from your email provider inbox. Always log into the site directly (not from a link in an email) and only respond if they appear there.
  • Always check the users feedback.
  • Only send goods when the funds have been received. Check your account. Do not rely on emails saying that money has been sent/received.
  • Be wary of any different addresses provided after the sale has ended.
  • Do not send goods to a different address to that given by the site as you will invalidate any insurance claims you might have.
  • Read the buyer/seller insurance terms and conditions to ensure you trade safely and are aware of what you need to do to remain covered.
  • Remember auction sites do not hold goods pending payment or guarantee transactions.

Get Safe Online website

Staying Safe on eBay

eBay has provided the following advice:

  • Before bidding, remember to check the seller’s Feedback rating and the comments left by members they’ve traded with. It will help you make an informed decision about the seller’s reliability and what other users think of them. Also you can now see Detailed Seller Ratings (DSRs) broken down into “As Described”, “Communication”, “Delivery Time” and “Shipping Charges” to give you further information on a seller.
  • Ensure you look at the options for payment before placing a bid. The safest way to pay for gifts online is via PayPal. Never ever use MoneyGram or Western Union – these are not safe ways to pay for online purchases and are banned on eBay.
  • Never accept an ‘Off eBay’ offer. Off eBay sales are transactions which have been taken away from the eBay site. With this type of transaction you have no record of the listings once it’s ended and no visibility of your payment. eBay discourages members from taking a transaction ‘off eBay’ as operating away from the eBay site means that users are no longer protected by our safety measures.
  • Before you bid on that perfect item, check with the seller how and when they plan to send it. Good communication between a buyer and seller makes for a great experience.
  • If you receive an email in your personal email inbox purporting to have come from eBay, check to see if it’s also been sent to your ‘My Messages’ folder in your eBay account. If it’s not then the email is not from eBay and you should delete it immediately. If you’re in any doubt at all, report the email to and you’ll get a quick answer back.
  • Download the eBay Toolbar.Detect fraudulent websites that claim to be from eBay or PayPal by downloading the free eBay Toolbar with Account Guard. The “Account Guard” feature will turn green when you are on a genuine eBay or PayPal website, and turn red or grey to warn you when you are on a potentially fraudulent or unknown website. All you have to do is remember “If the Account Guard's not green, it's not eBay or PayPal”.

For more information on staying safe on eBay, go to the eBay Safety Centre 

Reporting an Incident

The information required for investigations into online auction transactions are:

  • The user names of both parties (what they call themselves on the site)
  • The email addresses used by the suspect (or used to send/receive funds)
  • The item or reference number of the advert
  • How payment was made or received
  • If payment has been made by Paypal or other online payment system then the email address to which funds have been sent

Please check first whether the auction website can deal with your complaint before you report an incident to us. To contact us, call us on 612612.


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