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Safety tips

Unfortunately the internet is not devoid of con artists out for a quick buck. While we can't be there for you every time you deal with people online, we've compiled the following list of safety tips to help you avoid the most common pitfalls. None of these guidelines however are alternatives to common sense so always exercise your best judgment when dealing online.

Identifying fraud

If an email claims that one of your financial accounts (e.g. PayPal or your bank account) was disabled or that a charge you don't recognize was applied to it and then asks you to login and verify your information, it could very well be a phishing scam. Phishing scams are intended to direct you to a fake website so that your login credentials can be obtained. Consider all links in emails suspect! To be sure you are not redirected to a phishing site, always type the address of the website directly in your browser's address bar.

Be extra careful when accepting cashier's checks. A widespread scam technique involves paying with a fake cashier's check. Most banks will show a credit on your account before verifying the authenticity of the check. You will most likely ship the item only to later have the bank reverse the credit.

In some cases, the cashier's check will be for an amount larger than the original purchase price and you will be asked to refund the difference. When the check is finally identified as fake, the scammers get to collect this difference as well as your item.

If anyone asks you to send money when they are buying from you, always assume it's a scam.

Never ship an item until payment for it is cleared and secured in your account.

Whenever possible, use PayPal as an additional layer of protection between you and the buyer.

When in doubt, there is no doubt! Avoid deals that sound too good to be true or too complicated.

Be wary of international transactions. Deal locally whenever possible.

Try talking to the buyer on the phone. Often their tone of voice will tell you a lot.

To prevent your email address from being harvested by spammers, use the web form option in your contact page instead of displaying your email address directly on the site. Avoid posting your email address in web forums or in your blog.

Be suspect of deals involving a third party, such as a moving company or an agent for the buyer. The third party is often used as an excuse for asking you to send money to the scammers.

Be suspect of buyers interested in a large amount of items at the same time. Often scammers will increase the amount of the transaction to make it worth their while.

Be wary if the buyer indicates haste in completing the transaction.

Emails sent by use a special format and always come from a address. We never give your email address to third parties, not even to affiliates or partners. If you receive a message stating or suggesting affiliation to Zhibit LLC or, it is probably spam.

Although a well phrased email cannot automatically be trusted, one that contains many spelling or grammatical errors should be suspect.

To save time, scammers often use prewritten text and simply copy and paste it. Be suspect if an email uses general terms and does not directly address any of your questions.

Reporting fraud

Keep a library of your communiqué - including dates, IP addresses and header data - with anyone you suspect is trying to fraud you. Not only will this information be useful to the authorities, but it will also allow you to compare future emails against this library.

Check the relevant discussion forums to see if the same scam has already been reported by other subscribers. If not, post the text of the alleged scam to the forum as means to seek the opinion of, and warn, other members of the community.

Contact us and include as much information as you can about the alleged fraud so that we can alert other subscribers.

The website of the Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section of the US Dept. of Justice includes information on how to file complaints with the authorities, including at the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

If the scammers have contacted you by means of a web-based email such as Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo, contact the hosting company and report the abuse. Make sure to provide them with the information you collected on the scam artist and inform them you've filed a complaint with the IC3. Although their privacy policy will most likely prevent them from disclosing their actions to you, these companies take spam seriously and more often than not will take action against abusers of their systems.

File a report with so that others can learn about the scam and avoid it.
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