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How to be safe on Facebook Marketplace

The Facebook page of the company's Marketplace.

The Facebook page of the company's Marketplace.

Published Jan 15, 2022


Cape Town – We have all heard horror stories about Facebook Marketplace. Whether it is sellers running away with money or defunct products (or both), Facebook Marketplace scams are rife.

But how do you know whom to trust on Marketplace? What are the guidelines to follow when buying something? And most importantly, how do you protect yourself?

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What to watch out for when shopping on Marketplace

When shopping on Facebook, make sure you are logged in to the real Facebook website. It sounds obvious, but a number of scams happen because of fake sites.

If you see any signs of suspicious activity, immediately cancel the transaction.

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Buyers are encouraged to compare prices before buying an item.

Double-check deals that seem too good to be true.

Scammers may try to use underpriced items in a bid to lure buyers into a scam.

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If you have been scammed on Facebook Marketplace, report the listing or person and call the police immediately.

Buying and selling in the pandemic era

When buying and selling during this time, follow Covid-19 protocols on social distancing or stay at home.

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If you're meeting someone in person, arrange your meeting in a public and well-lit area.

For extra safety, create and share your meeting plan with a trusted friend or family member through Messenger.

If you buy an item, make sure to clean it before bringing it into your home.


Don't transfer money directly into a seller's bank account. Offer to use a secure person-to-person payment site, such as PayPal.

However, if you opt to pay electronically using wire transfer or money order solutions, avoid payment links and log in directly through the payment method's website.

Keep in mind that cashier’s and certified cheques can be counterfeit.

Don't share your financial information (PayPal login and password, bank account info). Do not share unnecessary personal information with buyers or sellers.

Transactions are between the buyer and seller only. No third-party guarantee should be involved.

Don’t agree to requests to make additional payments for shipping or other previously unlisted charges from the seller after the transaction is complete.

Reject overpayments from buyers for items. This is especially if the buyer asks to be reimbursed for overpayment. Requests like this are often part of a counterfeit cashier's cheque scheme.

Don’t provide gift card details (such as the claim code) for payment to someone you don’t know.

If you're buying an item, inspect it to make sure that it’s genuine.

For high-value items such as watches and luxury bags, you may request a certificate of authenticity or proof of purchase.

Do not send deposits for flat rentals without having seen the flat in person first.


Avoid communicating with buyers or sellers privately outside Facebook.

It’s useful to have a record of your conversations. It will be helpful in case there is a problem with the purchase or payment later.

Don't respond to messages or emails that ask you to provide verification codes or account information, such as your email address and password.

Remember, Facebook will never ask you for your password.

How to report a seller

If you suspect a seller or product violates Facebook’s commerce policies, you can report them. This is how.

From your news feed, click Marketplace. You will find this in the left-hand menu.

Click a listing from the seller that you want to report and click on the name of that seller.

Click “Report Seller” and follow the on-screen instructions.


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