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Online Auctions: A Scam or a Bargain?

Online auctions are a great place to find bargains, but check out these tips to avoid getting burned.

careful before you clickShoppers love a bargain and online auctions just might be the perfect place to find one... but are they safe?

Fraud at auctions exists. When shoppers are looking for a bargain, there will always be someone to take advantage. The good news is that you can make your auction shopping safe.

Auctions are becoming safer, but auction scammers are getting better at their craft. True, there are some bad apples at every auction site, but they can't seem to spoil the fun of getting a bargain.

To make sure your holiday - or everyday - shopping at online auctions is safe and rewarding there are a few simple things to keep in mind.

Before you start bidding on any items, do a search online to find out what the prices are like in retail outlets.

  • If the item is priced unbelievably low... be extremely careful. Unbelievable is probably exactly the right word to use.

  • Many auction shoppers get carried away and wind up bidding more than the item is worth. If the bidding gets too high, drop out. [ED NOTE: unscrupulous sellers will even arrange for others to bid on the item to bump up the price.]

Make sure that the person selling the item has a good reputation. Most online auction sites will let you see the seller's history and any complaints that have been made about the merchandise sellers delivered - or failed to deliver.

Get familiar with the policies of the auction - the bigger auction sites have guarantees to make sure you get refunds for bad deals, but many other online auctions leave it up to you to take precautions.

There are some good articles and auction tips to check before you start bidding.

Ten tips to avoid being scammed offers some advice from an online law encyclopedia (like using your credit card's buyer protection service to contest a fraudulent charge.) The US Federal Trade Commission also has a site to help you avoid problems or to get help if something does go wrong. See their online brochure, Internet Auctions: A Guide for Buyers and Sellers.

Don't let the scary stories stop you from shopping at the auctions.

Millions of satisfied customers will tell you what a great experience it was. There are some incredible bargains and some collectibles that are impossible to find anywhere else. It can be fun and rewarding — as long as you know what to watch out for.

More to Know About Auction Scams around the Net:

eBay Security Center


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