Staying Safe with DisabledGear.com
Action Fraud - www.actionfraud.org.uk - is a good place for you to find out about and report fraud.
Please also read our SCAM ATTEMPTS page as this may support your own gut instincts as to whether someone is bogus. Remember, if it doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. Familiarising yourself with common scams is a good way to protect yourself.
For the most part, shopping online is totally safe; with online classifieds, most people want a straight forward transaction to sell something they no longer need or to get an item cheaper by buying second-hand. However, whilst most sellers and buyers are who they say they are, every so often we hear of new scams. We want to make you more aware so that you can better protect yourself - after all, you are the best person to protect your money.
What We're Doing
Sharing information is the best way to counter fraud and scammers, and we invite you to help review listings, and report any abuse, or let us know about any suspicions or bad experience so that we can share it with others.
Please make use of this site to learn about the most common scams and how to avoid them.
Basic safety guidelines
- Trust your gut (if it seems too good to be true, it probably is).
- Never send or wire money through Moneygram or Western Union, especially overseas.
- Meet the seller and see the item in person before you buy or use an insured service to send money.
Tips for Buyers
- Initial Contact
Ask questions. When you first contact a seller by phone or email, express your interest in the item and ask any questions you may have. Ask about the condition and/or history of the item. Ask to see digital photos as well.
Limit personal information. Limit the amount of information you share about yourself (for example, don't give out your home phone or address and remove personal information from your email sig file). However, after the seller has answered some questions and seems credible, you may need to disclose more information about yourself such as your name and mobile phone number (but keep it limited to that).
Establish the credibility of the seller. In addition to communicating over email, we recommend talking to the seller by phone before meeting them.
If the seller seems evasive or suspicious, or makes you uncomfortable at any point during the initial contact process, do not continue to pursue the transaction.
- Meeting the Seller
Meet in a public place. Meet in a public place if possible - during the daytime when other people will be around.
Bring a friend. If the item is large, like a piece of furniture, and you must go to the seller's home, always let someone know where you are going. You may also want to share whatever contact info you have for the seller (their email address, phone number).
If the seller seems evasive or suspicious, or makes you uncomfortable at any point during the meeting, simply excuse yourself.
- Seeing and Evaluating the Item
Do your research. It always helps to do advance research on the market value of item so you will know if you are getting a good deal. You may want to bring copies of similar listings with you that support your valuation. Don't be afraid to haggle or negotiate on price, but don't insult the seller with an unreasonably low offer.
Where possible, see it before you buy it. Always see the item in person before you buy it. If it is merchandise, inspect its condition carefully. If it is a car, check the vehicle history (the AA offer a vehicle history check for about £20) and ask for receipts for any service records. You can also request a pre-purchase inspection at a local mechanic, a service which can identify potential safety and mechanical issues. Take the car on a test drive and for extra precaution, ensure that the car is registered in the seller's name.
If the item is not as described or pictured, don't be afraid to walk away from the deal or change your offer.
- The Transaction
Pay cash. In online classifieds, it's best to pay cash and to keep the payment simple. Do not use personal cheques, money wires, Western Union or Moneygrams. Do not give out any personally identifiable information such as bank numbers or credit card numbers.
For big purchases, use cashier's checks. For an item priced over £1,000, you may be more comfortable using a banker's draft from a well-known bank so you don't have to carry around the cash. You can bring a banker's draft in person to your first meeting, but it may be better to wait until you are sure you want to buy the item since you will need to make it out to the seller and you will need a final amount. You should also ask for a signed receipt.
Protect your personally identifiable information. Don't give out your National Insurance number, bank numbers, credit card numbers, etc.
If the seller seems evasive or suspicious, or makes you uncomfortable at any point during the transaction, walk away from the deal. Always trust your instincts.
Tips for Sellers
- Posting Your Ad
Be descriptive, use photos. Describe your item as accurately as possible so potential buyers don't become irritated if the item is not as expected. Include photos to give an idea of the appearance and condition of the item.
Limit personal information. When posting your classified ad, use an email address that does not personally identify you (for example use a Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo email rather than a work or home email). If you use a phone number, use your mobile phone number instead of your home phone.
Be direct and respond to potential buyers, answering questions and also finding out any information that may help inform the person to whom you are selling or renting.
- Responding to Initial Contact
Answer questions.Respond to any interested buyer over email and/or by phone to answer his or her questions and to determine whether he or she is someone with whom you want to do business. Try to get a sense of his or her overall credibility and trustworthiness to see if you want to move forward.
Limit personal information. Don't disclose any personally identifiable information, like where you work, until you feel comfortable with the other person. Avoid inviting someone to your home.
If a buyer seems to act suspiciously or raises any red flags during preliminary contact, trust your instincts and walk away from the deal.
- Meeting the Buyer
Don't accept offers over your asking price. A common scam is an offer over your asking price plus an extra amount for shipping. The "buyer" will send a counterfeit banker's draft or cheque and ask you to refund the difference back to them. By the time you discover the cashier's check is counterfeit, it's too late.
Meet in a public place if possible; avoid being alone. If the item is large, like a piano or a washer and dryer, arrange to have a friend over when the buyer arrives. If you are selling an item, you may want to schedule your showings all at one time, especially if you are at home alone (there is safety in crowds). Let a neighbour know that potential buyers are coming to your house.
Be prepared to negotiate. A buyer may want to haggle with you about the price of an item. Be prepared to negotiate the price and terms of the transaction, but be clear where you stand.
Remove listing when sold. For common courtesy and to avoid angering potential buyers, once your item is sold, be sure to remove your classified ad and contact any interested buyers so they don't waste their time coming to see it.
If a buyer seems evasive or suspicious, or makes you uncomfortable at any point during the meeting, walk away (or ask them to leave if they are at your house).
- The Transaction
Insist on cash.In online classifieds, cash is the safest and the simplest for both parties. Do not accept personal cheques, money wires, Western Union or Moneygrams. Do not give out any personally identifiable information such as bank numbers or credit card numbers. Also, ask for payment in full.
For big purchases, you can accept banker's drafts.A potential buyer may be uncomfortable carrying around large amounts for items priced over £1,000, so an alternative is to go to a bank together and arrange for a banker's draft to be written out to you. Do not accept a banker's draft from someone's pocket (they are easy to forge). Arrange to go to the bank together during business hours to verify the check's authenticity.
Protect your personally identifiable information. Don't give out your national insurance number, bank numbers, credit card numbers, etc.
Offer a receipt.Detail the amount of the transaction and the condition of the item should any further disputes arise. Make sure that both parties sign and keep a receipt, especially in the case of a car sale. You may need the receipt later as proof of relinquishing ownership and responsibility of the vehicle if it is not re-registered and gets a ticket, or is in an accident.
When buying and selling through online classifieds, you may encounter a variety of payment types. With classifieds, it is always good to be flexible both about price and payment method, but it is even better to be knowledgeable about the various methods.
The two most important parts of choosing a payment method are staying safe and making sure the transaction is successful and painless. If you do not feel comfortable with a particular method, tell the buyer or seller. If a buyer or seller refuses to choose an alternative method, never be afraid to walk away from the deal.
Because classifieds are inherently local, the most common form of payment has historically been cash: you find the item (which is most likely in your general area), contact the seller, meet in a public place, and complete the transaction. While this method works in most circumstances, there are a number of situations in which other methods of payment will likely be required.
Cash: good when the item is below £1,000 and when you are meeting the other party in person. Simple, but often a lack of a printed receipt. Never send cash in the post.
Cheque: useful if you cannot meet in person, but poses risks on both sides. For the buyer, the seller may not be who they say they are and an item may not be sent. If you are the seller and receive one, it may be best to wait until after cheque has cleared before sending item, if you do not know the buyer. Even this is not 100% as cheques can bounce days AFTER they have cleared, and you are left with NO recourse to get your money back.
PayPal: easy system of payment if you know the seller is trustworthy. Payment is instant and traceable. However, very little protection in case of mishap. Though BE AWARE that you may receive an email "from PayPal" stating that funds have been credited to your account. Scammers are getting very good at producing genuine looking emails. ALWAYS check with PayPal - Direct. DO NOT use any links from emails as these may send you to a fraud site which could steal your Log In details.
Banker's Draft: useful for items over £1,000 instead of carrying cash, but carries far greater risk of fraud. Banker's drafts are easy to forge. Do not accept one out of someone's pocket, instead go to bank during working hours with buyer to verify that everything is good, or wait until day after it has cleared and bank has given payment the okay before releasing item.
Western Union: this is a great way to receive cash - ESPECIALLY from buyers outside of the UK. Once you have collected the cash from a Western Union office or agent, the money cannot be reclaimed. The flip side is that this security costs fees. These can either be paid by the sender or the receiver, so will form part of your agreement with the seller / buyer.
With all classifieds, it is always best for you to see what you are paying for before you pay.
If you have a problem or lose money through fraud, contact your local constabulary. If it is a result of a listing on this site, please also let us know so that we can try to take steps to prevent the same happening to others.
A community works best together.