Tips to avoid purchasing, exchanging stolen goods on Facebook Marketplace

Tips to avoid purchasing, exchanging stolen goods on Facebook Marketplace

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Buyers beware! Thieves may be using buying-selling apps and social media to make a quick buck on stolen items.

Facebook’s digital marketplace, aptly named Marketplace, is proactively advising its users on steps they can take to fend off suspected thieves on the hunt for their next big score.

The obvious first step for users is to contact law enforcement with any evidence of stolen goods being sold online. For harder to prove cases, Marketplace uses a combination of technology, human review and community reporting to prevent illegal items from being bought and sold.

“If we find an item that doesn’t belong on Marketplace, we will remove it and evaluate if any additional action is necessary,” said a Facebook spokesperson. “We also encourage our community to report buyers or sellers who aren’t acting in good faith; there’s a “Report Item” option on every product profile. If you see an item for sale that you believe violates our Commerce Policies, you can easily report the listing. You can also report buyers and sellers if you see activity that you think shouldn’t be on Facebook.”

Facebook advises users take note of the following tips when buying or exchanging items through Marketplace.

Perform due diligence on the seller and the item before making a purchase or sending payment.

  • View the other person’s profile to learn more about the person you are buying from or selling to.
  • Tap a person’s profile on the product listing page to see the friends you have in common, see what else they’ve sold, and any ratings they may have received. 
  • If you’re buying an item, read listing descriptions carefully, look over the item and make sure it’s what you want.
  • Inspect the item, making sure to thoroughly test it before buying it.
  • Review Facebook’s listing of items that can and can’t be sold through Marketplace. 
  • In certain cases it may be appropriate to request to see the original receipt for the item. 

Protect your privacy: Don’t share your financial information with buyers or sellers.

  • Don’t share your personal financial information to make or accept a purchase, including your payment login and password details or bank account info.
  • If you’re selling electronics, make sure you’ve cleared any personal information from the device.
  • Use cash or person-to-person payment methods, such as PayPal.
  • When selling an item, consider asking for full payment instead of installments.

Meet in a safe location for the exchange

  • If the seller offers to ship the item rather than meeting in person, keep in mind that you won’t have the opportunity to verify the item.
  • Consider meeting in a public place where there are plenty of people, such as a coffee shop, grocery store, shopping mall or police station.
  • Visit the Baton Rouge Police Department’s safe transaction zone located at 9000 Airline Highway.
  • Bring a friend and let others know where you’re headed. 

Additionally, police officers advise the public keep an eye out for items being sold in bulk from a single store with security sensors still attached. It’s a clear red flag that an item may be stolen.

In most cases it will be necessary for police to confiscate a stolen item from the purchaser. This can lead to a lengthy process for buyers to get a refund. Some items are covered by Purchase Protection. If an item is eligible for purchase protection, it will say “covered by Purchase Protection” underneath the item price.

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