How To Spot Scammers When Shopping And Selling Online

Over the last five months, I have been scammed out of $600 through online sales. I’ve had a hard time figuring out who is legitimate and who is just stealing my money due to a long history of trauma and abuse. I typically trust that people have good intentions. I also go into fight/flight/freeze or flop when an entity starts barking orders at me, especially when they play to my weaknesses and accuse me of taking advantage of them. Scammers are sneaky and mean.

Luckily, there are ways to deal with scammers. Here are four points my brother has developed to help me determine if something is a scam and how to back out of the purchase when buying something online.

  1. Did they contact you? (Even if you’re selling something and posted it publicly)
  2. Are they creating a sense of urgency?
  3. Are they threatening or accusing you of doing something wrong (stealing from them)?
  4. Do you feel safe/unsafe?

Here’s what to do to avoid getting scammed: 

  1. If they contact you, even if you’re selling something, talk to them on the phone. Do not accept payments unless they’re done in person or after the exchange. 
  2. If they are rushing you, slow it all down. If they keep pushing, make up an excuse to put the money exchange on hold (“someone is at the door” or “I need my parents/spouse to be with me…”).
  3. If you get emails that threaten your safety (even if they look legitimate and claim to be from one of the apps you can pay from), block the sender immediately. Do not give them your address or any personal information. If they threaten to have you arrested, even if the email looks legit, I promise you nobody is coming to your house to arrest you. I learned this the hard way.
  4. If you do not feel safe, end the conversation and block them.
  5. Do not meet up with anyone you’re selling to unless it’s in a public place with a trusted person.
  6. Call your bank immediately and put a hold on your card/account if someone gets sensitive information from you.
  7. If you get scammed, file a police report. 

There are so many beautiful hearts in the world who truly do want to be good people. But in this day and age, there are more scammers than ever. For me, the sense of urgency triggers my trauma response, as do the threats. I go into fight or flight and obey the commands of the scammers because I’m afraid for my life. So, this checklist is a way to slow down the process and get back to a centered place where my frontal lobe can be back online before making any purchases or selling anything to a stranger. It’s hard to spot scammers, but this checklist can be helpful. I hope it helps you, too!

Featured image via Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels


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