Buyers & Sellers Beware: Online marketplaces make unregulated spaces feel safe

Written by Jeanann Grubbs
Buyers & Sellers Beware: Online marketplaces make unregulated spaces feel safe
Like the lawless plains of the Wild West, online marketplaces sometimes hide danger in plain sight.

The proliferation of online marketplaces, both within and outside of well-known and trusted social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, has brought never-before-seen convenience to people everywhere. Exchanging goods and services directly with buyers and sellers online is easy, inexpensive, and instantaneous; make an account or download an app to you’re ready to go. That’s the driving premise behind Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, eBay, and many popular apps such as 5Miles, LetGo, and OfferUp.

There are many benefits to using different online marketplaces as many business blogs like the StartupBros can attest. But the relative ease-of-use of these e-commerce methods has made most people blind to the potential dangers of connecting with strangers without reservation and engage in activities that they may never even attempt in the real world.

Before you post a product or make your next purchase online, we urge you to be aware of the following eye-opening facts about online marketplaces:

1.Vetting for buyers and sellers is minimal, and there are no online background checks

When an account is created almost anywhere, the odds are good that it’s not a person on the other end making sure that all the details match up, but artificial intelligence (AI) programmed for the task of weeding out the “bad” members from the good ones. Since these algorithms only check for a set of predetermined parameters, fooling them with phony information is surprisingly simple and a common practice for scammers or criminals looking to make a quick buck. That goes double for social media sites that have a secondary selling function such as Facebook Marketplace, which doesn’t actively monitor the user transactions that are facilitated through the platform unless they explicitly violate their TOS (Terms of Service) or community guidelines.

Reader’s Digest released an article that featured a collection of tips and tricks on how to stay safe when using Facebook Marketplace, chiefly naming the risks of getting burglarized or assaulted by buyers or sellers asking to meet in person. And as national news can attest, this isn’t an uncommon occurrence.

So if you are planning on a live meetup, it might be a good idea to use expert online background check services, such as those offered by GladiKnow to find people fast - even if it’s only hours before your scheduled rendezvous.

2. The risk of identity theft is high

Although some marketplaces have more protections than others if a purchased item needs to be shipped to your home or office, then whoever is on the other end is going to get that address (along with some of your credit card information) and can do with it as they please. While most sellers are motivated to act ethically and protect their customers’ data, some are only there to look for information to mine or unwary victims to exploit.

According to Quarz, “the going rate for a stolen identity is about twenty bucks” when sold on the black market in the part of the internet that is known as the “dark web.” Even basic information can be used to take out phone lines of credit or to open fraudulent bank accounts.

3. Anti-fraud policies vary wildly from place to place

There are many types of online e-commerce fraud, and no two are handled the same by the major platforms that host buying and selling. While eBay and Amazon may have several safeguards in place for transactions gone awry, in Facebook, Instagram, or many marketplace apps, the most that can be done is to report a proven offender, so their account is deletd, with no real way of stopping them from doing it again. Just in April of 2019, the FBI’s Annual Cybercrimes Report revealed that Americans had lost over $2.7 billion in 2018 to internet crime, representing a 91% increase in only a year.

While it may be a turbulent time in the world of online marketplaces, there are effective ways to protect yourself, your belongings, and your data by pitting technology against technology.

One great way is to enlist the help of GladiKnow, a direct-to-consumer “person” search and background lookup service that searches over 600 million records instantly and lets you know at a glance whether it’s safe to do business (both in-person or remote) with anyone, anytime.

Check online buyers and sellers now

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