Online buy-and-sell 101: Ensuring a good deal

Nikki Natividad
Online buy-and-sell 101: Ensuring a good deal
There’s no better place to find a good deal than online. But how do you make sure you aren’t buying into a scam? Read on to find out

MANILA, Philippines — The Internet is a treasure trove of some of the best deals you won’t find in the mall. 

Online, there’s always someone selling their great grandfather’s vintage camera collection, a rarely-used kitchen tool, or even their mom’s secondhand, limited edition designer handbags at a discounted price.

But online shopping is not without its challenges. Behind the protection of a laptop screen, someone may be trying to make a few quick bucks through a bogus deal. We’ve all heard tales of people receiving products that are expired, fake, or in poor condition. Some, after payment, don’t receive anything at all.

When transacting online, ensure your “cybersecurity.” Our Cybercrime Prevention Act defines it as a “collection of tools, policies, risk management approaches, actions, training, best practices, assurance and technologies that can be used to protect the cyber environment and organization and user’s assets.”

How can you protect yourself from fraudulent sellers or buyers? Don’t miss these warning signs:

The deal is good…too good

A lot of scams are dressed as unbelievably good deals.

Take a closer look at the product. Does it have complete details like price, condition, warranty, or parts? If an item is being sold way below its original price without a valid Reason For Selling (RFS), then you should be suspicious.

Question the seller. Request for more pictures of the actual product rather than generic Google or Pinterest images. Ask why the item was priced this way — maybe they’re just trying to get rid of it quick! If the reason doesn’t justify the pricing, don’t buy it. There are plenty of options available online, so if a deal strikes you as fishy, move on to the next one.

According to Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code, a person who uses deceit to cheat another out of something that was promised him is considered a form of swindling.

Fishy online seller behavior

Check the seller.

Review the seller’s profile, which should include their picture and contact information. If you have their name, do a quick Google search and look at their Facebook page or forums where their name might have been mentioned. When you get in touch with them, observe your seller’s behavior carefully.

Can they give sufficient details about the product? Can they answer your questions properly? Can they provide you with more pictures of the items other than what’s shown on the site? Are they open to meeting up for you to inspect the item?

It’s a seller’s duty to be honest and to provide complete information about their item. And as a buyer, it’s OK to ask for as many details as possible, especially if you have reservations about the product.

In case you still end up on the tail end of a bad deal, there are laws and regulations in place to protect your interest, like the Consumer Act of the Philippines.

The online seller is insisting on sketchy terms

So they’ve answered all your questions, sent you all the pictures, and they seem like a legitimate seller. But then comes that sinking feeling when you’re closing a deal and the seller doesn’t want to meet at a public place. Take that as a bad sign.

Other sketchy requests to look out for:

  • When they request to meet at an obscure, private location or unreasonable time
  • When they insist on getting the money wired or deposited into their bank account immediately 
  • When they start asking for personal information beyond what’s required for the transaction

When a person is trying to get any sort of personal information from you, this is called fishing. Don’t divulge! According to the Data Privacy Act of 2012, you have the right to protect your personal information for the sake of your cybersecurity.

Avoiding buyer’s remorse

When it comes to spotting a good deal from a bad one, trust your gut and keep these things in mind:

  • Make sure you’re on a reputable buy and sell platform that safeguards your interests in case of a scam 
  • Always review the product and seller information, and contact the seller before sealing the deal 
  • If you’re suspicious about a seller or a product, before moving on to the next deal, take initiative by flagging the ad to save others from a potential scam
  • Remember that there are laws in place to protect your interest like the Cybercrime Prevention Act, the revised Penal Code, the Consumer Act, and the Data Privacy Act of 2012

If you ever fall victim to a scam, report the scammer to the online platform you were using so they can take the necessary steps to suspend the seller’s account. Then file a complaint in the right channels that enforce cybersecurity, such as Camp Crame or designated regions where there is a PNP-Anti-Cybercrime (PNP-ACG) group. Every act against cybercrime is a measure towards creating a safe and trustworthy online space.

All these are are just precautionary measures. Don’t let the prospect of a scam deter you from online shopping. You not only find the best deals on the Internet, you can also discover some of the best stories, too.

You’re not just acquiring a new item when you engage in buy-and-sell. You might be meeting someone interesting and doing them a great favor as well.

Just remember that you are the number one enforcer of your own cybersecurity! Online shopping can be an enjoyable experience – all you need to do is heed these tips and stay informed. —