How to stay safe on Facebook Marketplace

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Cape Town – We’ve all heard horror stories about Facebook Marketplace. Whether it’s sellers running away with money or defunct products (or both), scams are common on Facebook Marketplace.

But how do you know who to trust on Marketplace? Which guidelines have to be considered when buying? And above all, how do you protect yourself?

What to look out for when shopping on Marketplace

When shopping on Facebook, make sure you are logged in on the real Facebook website. It sounds obvious, but a number of scams happen due to fake websites.

If you see any signs of suspicious activity, cancel the transaction immediately.

Buyers are encouraged to compare prices before purchasing an item.

Check offers that seem too good to be true.

Scammers can try to use underpriced items to lure buyers into a scam.

If you’ve been scammed on Facebook Marketplace, report the listing or person and call the police immediately.

Buying and selling in times of pandemic

If buying and selling during this time, please follow Covid-19 social distancing protocols or stay home.

If you are meeting someone in person, arrange to meet in a public and well-lit area.

For added security, create your meeting schedule and share it with a trusted friend or family member on Messenger.

If you buy an item, be sure to clean it before bringing it into your home.


Don’t transfer money directly to a seller’s bank account. Offer to use a secure person-to-person payment site like PayPal.

However, if you choose to pay electronically via bank transfer or money order, avoid payment links and sign up directly through the payment method’s website.

Keep in mind that bank drafts and certified checks can be forged.

Do not share your financial information (PayPal login and password, bank account information). Do not share unnecessary personal information with buyers or sellers.

Transactions only take place between buyer and seller. There should be no third party warranty involved.

Accept seller requests for additional payment for shipping or other fees not previously listed after the transaction is complete.

Reject buyer overpayments for items. This applies in particular if the buyer requests reimbursement of an overpayment. Requests like these are often part of a counterfeit cashier’s check scheme.

Don’t give gift card details (e.g. claim code) for payment to someone you don’t know.

When you buy an item, check it to make sure it’s genuine.

For high-value items such as watches and luxury bags, you can request a certificate of authenticity or proof of purchase.

Do not transfer any down payments for rental apartments without first seeing the apartment in person.


Avoid private communication with buyers or sellers outside of Facebook.

It’s useful to have a record of your conversations. It will be helpful in case there is any problem with the purchase or payment later.

Do not respond to messages or emails that ask you to provide verification codes or account information, such as your email address and password.

Remember that Facebook will never ask you for your password.

How to report a seller

If you suspect a seller or product is violating Facebook’s Commerce Policies, you can report it. This is like.

From your news feed, click Marketplace. You can find these in the left menu.

Click on a listing from the seller you want to report and click on that seller’s name.

Click Report Seller and follow the on-screen instructions.


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