How to spot a dodgy auction

We all want to spend our money as wisely as possible, in an effort to retain as much as possible without spending frivolously. It might be strange then to see that auctions are so popular they’ve become digitised on spaces like eBay.

The advantages to a seller are obvious: You can probably get a better deal, if your item is worth it, since people will be fighting one another with increasingly higher amounts. You also get to thoroughly show off why an item is worth a high amount, since you’re not frozen to a static page.

As one house seller indicated to Domain:

”Some people might sell by private treaty only after an unsuccessful auction but that doesn’t send out a good message… I go to private treaty first. But if the market improves and there are more buyers, then I’ll go back to auctions.”

Of course, as a buyer there are obvious worries. Whether you’re looking at houses or cars on auction, you need to spot details which could reveal that what you’re looking at, really is too good to be true.

Consider the fact that, in 2008, eBay was fined €38.6 million by a French court for selling fake goods on its site. That’s a lot of money, but it also means it’s a very big problem. But, eBay can do what it can to curb scams but it’s still up to us to be aware of what’s happening.

The Telegraph has several suggestions to help combat this.

First, they suggest you acquire the purchase in person. Anyone can fake pictures of a product, without you actually seeing the product in person. Another important sign is to gauge a seller’s reaction to questions.

“Reputable sellers will be only too happy to answer questions you might have about a product, be it more detailed photos, proof of provenance, or more information about the condition and quality of the item. Any reluctance to provide this information should set alarm bells ringing in buyers’ minds.”

It’s also in your interest to assume items are stolen or fake until proven otherwise, rather than holding the opposite view. We must remember sellers aren’t a charity, they’re a business looking for a profit.

“Sellers are running businesses, not charities, so heavily discounted goods that normally retail for a far higher price should be treated with suspicion and assumed to be counterfeit, unless the seller can provide compelling and irrefutable evidence to the contrary.”

And, of course, one of the best ways is to examine what other buyers have said about the seller. Consistently positive reviews and feeback is an excellent sign this is a seller worth giving your money too, if they’ve passed all the other tests.

Consider these and other care-taking tips before digging into your wallet for what might be a big mistake.