The USPS just recently sent out a mailing to inform consumers about fraud and what to look out for. The publication entitled Do You Know the Warning Signs of Fraud? includes some very helpful tips. Their 8 fraud warning signs can also be applied to penny auctions.[pullquote]“If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. That is the lesson, and that lesson alone will save you a lot of grief. -Oprah.”
Fraud Warning Signs
- Sounds too good to be true. That final end price of $123.99 for an iPad, well that means 12,399 bids were placed ($0.01 increments), the winner may have spent 5x retail just to win.
- Pressures you to act “right away.” Is the site saying they’re only accepting new customers for the next few minutes?
- Guarantees success. Are they guaranteeing you will win?
- Promises unusually high returns. Once again, you cannot always win an item for less than retail, you won’t win an item for mere pennies in a penny auction.
- Requires an upfront investment – even for a “free” prize. All penny auction sites, pretty much, require an upfront bid pack investment, some sites are legit – meaning users have won and received items, some are successful at bidding, too. Do your homework.
- Buyers want to overpay you for an item and you have to send them the difference. Ok, now this hasn’t happened in penny auctions but this has happened on Craigslist, etc., so be careful!
- Doesn’t have the look of a real business. Look over everything, do they have a legit business name, address? What are their privacy policies, terms & conditions? Research. Investigate, put their address in Google, map it out. Go to the Secretary of State’s office website in the state the site is said to be located in and look to see if they’re even a registered company. Check their Alexa ranking, if the number is high that means their traffic is pretty low and you see a lot of bidders and winners they may not be legit. Ask questions in our forum, that’s why it’s there for you!
- Something just doesn’t feel right. “If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. That is the lesson, and that lesson alone will save you a lot of grief. -Oprah.”
How to File a Complaint With the FTC
If you believe that you’ve been a victim of fraud or just want to find out more about your consumer rights, visit ftc.gov or call the FTC’s (Federal Trade Commission – the nation’s consumer protection agency), toll-free number 1-800-FTC-HELP.
In case you would like to file a complaint but didn’t know how, take a look at the FTC‘s new video:
To file a complaint with the FTC all you have to do is go to FTCComplaintAssistant.gov and follow a few easy steps to provide the FTC with information that could not only help you, but save many others from being ripped off in the future.