Online sellers and buyers

Found something online for a bargain? There's a chance the offer might be too good to be true. Here's where to learn how to tell the difference between legitimate online sellers and buyers and the fake, counterfeit or scammer kind.

What are online seller and buyer scams?

Scammers can use online buy and sell pages, including Facebook Marketplace and personal Instagram selling accounts, to deceive buyers and sellers. Some tricks these sellers use are listing items that are counterfeit, that they don't have to sell or have no intention of sending. Buyers may show a fake screenshot, or a video of a fake interaction to 'prove' payment. The Citizens Advice Bureau outline your consumer rights when buying and selling goods on Facebook Marketplace.

There are legitimate sellers using Facebook business pages and Marketplace to sell goods. Before you purchase, research the seller to determine if they seem legitimate. Check their profile for friends, community engagement, photos, and any personal information they might have included on their page.

Tips to avoid online seller scams

  • Don’t rely on screenshots or videos purporting that the payment has been made. Log in to internet banking to make sure the money is in your account before sending or making the goods available for pick up.
  • Double check deals that are too good to be true.
  • Check the listing details. Does the description sound accurate and are there photos of the actual item? Some sellers add a piece of paper next to the item they are selling with their name and date, you could also ask them to do this.
  • Ask questions of the seller and check their profile details. If buying from an individual whose profile appears new or incomplete, this could be a sign that the account has been set up to scam.
  • If buying from a page, check their reviews to see if previous customers have had problems.
  • If it's a private sale, is it possible to see the item before handing over any money?
  • Look out for blue or grey ‘ticks’ on the page which are given to pages or profiles verified by Facebook.
  • Use regulated websites who have measures in place to protect buyers and sellers.

Helpful resources

What to do if you've been scammed

Anyone can fall victim to online scams. If you suspect that you've been scammed, get in touch with us as soon as possible.

Get in touch

Call us on 0800 113 355 (or +64 4 473 1133 from overseas) if you think you've been scammed.

Report suspicious activity

If you think you’ve been sent an email that doesn’t look like it’s from us, forward it to