smart spending

5 ways to stay safe when selling online

Insurance -- and guarding against swap-out scams
Insurance -- and guarding against swap-out scams © GWImages/Shutterstock.com

The most popular eBay scam is when someone buys something identical to a broken one they already have, says McGrath. Then, when the purchase arrives, they swap the good item with their broken one and send it back claiming it arrived damaged.

To prevent this from happening, take detailed pictures of the item and any identifying marks when posting it on eBay, says McGrath. Some sellers even use metal engravers to put a secret mark in certain spots. "It's a precaution you'd take for something like a $1,000 vase, not a vintage plate worth $10," he says.

Shipping insurance can also help you avoid these losses and hassles. Sometimes it's included by the carrier and sometimes you'll pay extra, says McGrath. He prefers third party insurance because it's less expensive, and he says the claims process is faster and easier. He puts his carrier's business cards in each package, so if there's a problem, the receiver can make a claim and leave him out of the process.

With eBay, you get up to $2,000 in seller protection, but you must use PayPal for payment and ship to the buyer's confirmed PayPal address. Even if it's a gift for someone else, do not ship to anywhere other than the confirmed PayPal address. Otherwise, you'll lose that seller protection.

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