Avoiding Getting Scammed as a Seller on eBay

Hi everyone,

I've just sold a reasonably high value item ($1500) on eBay and want to make sure I take all the necessary steps to protect myself against getting scammed before I post it.

Everything seems fine. It's not an item that attracts scammers, like a phone, or console, etc. But the buyer has paid via eBay/Paypal and their postage address is a PO box (in Australia, but in another state), so there's the potential for trouble.

Problems I'd like to avoid:

  • Payment reversed due to stolen account, stolen credit card, or credit card chargeback.
  • Buyer claiming the item never arrived, was broken, is fake, box was empty, contained bricks, etc.
  • Buyer returning a broken or fake item, empty box, box full of bricks, etc and keeping the original item.

Steps I'll be taking:

  • Speaking to the buyer over the phone. I've done this already and from what I can tell the buyer seems legit.
  • Waiting until the funds have been transferred from eBay to my bank account before posting the item.
  • Using a postage method with tracking, as well as signature on delivery.
  • Photographing the item and serial number.
  • Photographing the package and tracking number.

For those of you who've done this sort of thing before, is there anything else you'd recommend I do here?


Related Stores

eBay Australia
eBay Australia


  • +5

    Also get the weight of the package at the post office on the receipt.

    Ask the post office how you can ensure the delivery is not redirected to somewhere else, but returned to you if there is a redirect on the PO box.

  • +12

    Unfortunately for your case, you can't really protect from those concern items and eBay will generally side with the buyer should something go awry. It's a risk you'll have to take.

    Definitely make sure you pay for postage insurance though, especially with current delays meaning things can get lost.

  • +3

    Unfortunately as a seller there is not much you can do to protect yourself from a determined scammer aside from only accepting payment by cash or bank transfer (which, going by your post, is not the case.)

    A buyer who wants to scam you, will in all likelihood succeed at it. The steps you outline in the OP won't protect you from a determined scammer, though may save you from genuine misfortune such as the package getting lost or damaged in transit.

  • +2

    i was going to say avoid send to PO boxes address. Auspost seems to always deliver to the wrong PO BOX number,
    make sure the address is printed out and pay the extra few dollars for siguture on delivery.

  • +4

    I think the key to successful selling on ebay is:

    1. Don't sell expensive items.
    2. Hope for the best.

    With an emphasis on the second.

  • +3

    I recently sold some high value items on eBay to take advantage of $1 FVF.

    The steps I took were similar to yours:

    • Added tracking details to eBay listing
    • Paid for insurance and signature on delivery (was out of pocket $15 per sale but meh!)
    • Took a photo inside the post office with the box on the scales and with the post office and address labels clearly seen
    • eBay messaged the buyer advising tracking details are on the listing and that they will need to sign for it and attached the photo from step above so they knew what to expect.

    All of my buyers had street addresses so I could street view their house and gauge my confidence in not being scammed. No AU's or VT's on overgrown nature strips and you've got a winner.

    All 5 items were delivered successfully to legit people so I was very lucky. Touches woody

    Waiting until the funds have been transferred from eBay to my bank account before posting the item.

    I understand why you would do this but it just delays the whole process. eBay can take up to 5 days before the funds hit your account.

    • +2

      I don't want to see you touching your woody…

      • Maybe his name is Andy

  • +4

    EBay is a scammer's paradise and their policy is to take the buyer's side no matter how dodgy the claim is.

    The only way to 100% protect yourself is to not use eBay at all, but to sell through either Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace with all sales being cash only on pickup.

    While the steps OP has set out are good they won't stop a scammer as eBay rarely will even consider the seller's evidence, no matter how compelling it is.

    Another step to take is to keep your fingers crossed and pray to the Gods of the Internet for their protection.

  • +2


    Speaking to the buyer over the phone. I've done this already and from what I can tell the buyer seems legit.

    Good, but I wouldn't make a habit of it. I've literally never had phone call verification for decades of online shopping, so as a buyer I'd find this a bit weird.

    Waiting until the funds have been transferred from eBay to my bank account before posting the item.

    Nah this won't fly with eBay. Payment clearing times are only a few days now so its unlikely a problem will arise before your parcel gets delivered. Also it won't protect you anyway, they will send the debt collectors after you if they really want that cash back.

    Your other steps are fine and reasonable. I'd add the following:

    • Most important factor: Check the buyer's feedback - you generally won't have issues with someone with a score over 100, but also scan the feedback left for them to see if there were problems mentioned.
    • Be wary of requests to change shipping address from what is in eBay/PayPal - this nullifies seller protections, and can also be a sign of a hastily compromised account/credit card. If they really need an address change, get them to change it in their profile and purchase again.
    • Send it via AusPost Express Post or a good courier (NOT ARAMEX). In my experience, most problems arise from parcels being exceptionally slow or lost in transit. It's not worth saving the literally few bucks between Express and Regular post.
    • Try to avoid selling common scammer targets (phones >$500 especially iPhones, laptops, game consoles, other expensive small electronics, luxury goods, high value gift cards) - though having said that, I've sold in all those categories without issue
  • +2

    I find most items of value, do not send to a PO box.

  • +1

    *Take video of item being packed up and sealed and addressed.
    *Tracking method with insurance and signature on delivery
    *Note down any serial numbers and unique identifiers in the event they pull a faulty item switcheroo.

    • +1
      • Note down any serial numbers and unique identifiers in the event they pull a faulty item switcheroo.

      Including serial numbers / identifiers of parts of the item - i.e. components in a PC/laptop. You could find yourself getting the laptop returned to you just without it's insides!

      • +1

        So if you're selling brand new PCs and laptops, you would have to dissemble each and everyone of them, record down their parts, put it back together and then sell as "unused or box open" since it's not brand new anymore since the seals have been broken?

        • +1

          If you don't, you could potentially have a buyer sending back the open box claiming it wasn't as described (and it won't be for you, since they removed the RAM).

          I'm not saying you should open the box, I'm just highlighting that not having all the information could result in you being scammed.
          Having said that, having all the information won't necessarily stop you from being scammed…

          • @Chandler: SO then not sell at all? Can't be scammed if you got nothing to sell right?

            • @Zachary: No, you can't. And I'm not saying don't sell anything. As evidenced in this very forum, you can do everything "right", and still get scammed.

              You know what doesn't get scammed (well, almost) - cash only in a public place. Then you only get scammed out of your time and petrol when they don't show up.

              • @Chandler: Or get mugged by a bunch of guys waiting for your product instead of giving you cash for it.

  • +1

    Easy to say now in hindsight - but i'd put on the listing that full valid address required for postage (as in - no PO box). I sold an item - only a few hundred, a buyer bought it with a PO box. I contacted him and said i cant ship to PO Boxes (with the same fear as you have). He said its the only way he can get mail - apartment situation etc etc. In the end I bit the bullet and sent it - it worked out - but i was nervous.
    The fact you've spoken to him and you didnt get bad vibes from what you've put is a good sign though.

    With all the video evidence, serial numbers and stuff like that i'd love to say - 'yep that will protect you'. The fact is ebay support are HORRIBLE to deal with as a seller. They dont give a flying **** about the situation and will never ask for evidence. Its purely tracking numbers and what the status says on Auspost. 'it says you had the item delivered - end of'. Or in the middle of the night you'll have an automated ebay saying 'refunded - in buyers favour' etc etc.
    They always side with the buyer with a he says one thing - she says another scenario. I've been burned a few times. Now i refuse to sell overseas.
    Whether then its onto the police and they can help - unsure, lets hope you dont have to find out

    Good luck!

  • +1

    Does signature on delivery really help the seller?

    I understand that eBay requires you to purchase signature service when selling an item worth more than $750 (https://www.ebay.com.au/help/policies/member-behavior-polici...) but I have never had to sign for parcels since contactless delivery started. Also, anyone can give the delivery driver a fake name to receive a parcel, so for instance, a scammer can claim that nobody by that name lives at the delivery address or that the parcel was delivered to the wrong address. AusPost GPS isn't 100% accurate, so there's no proof that it was delivered to the recipient's address. Ultimately, eBay could refuse to help the seller saying that the item didn't reach the buyer. AusPost insurance doesn't cover such scenario, and the seller loses.

    I wish there was person-to-person service for parcels, or any delivery method in which the recipient must show their ID on delivery. Speaking of which, StarTrack asks to see your ID sometimes. Maybe consumers can use that service?

    • +1

      I've had paypal rule in the sellers flavor when they (courier please ) delivered to the wrong address, instead of returning it back to he seller.

      Things that should have been in my flavor, As Couriers don't ships to parcel collect addresses, it should have been be able to be delivered. But it somehow got delivered and no one at that Post Office know where the parcel was.

      • What was the flavor? Peppermint is my fave.

  • -2

    Arnotts Shapes - Flavor You Can See?

  • +2

    Whilst I haven't been scammed (yet, touch MDF. Although been shafted twice by non paying ghosties), I did recently sell my old phone in the $600 range, and posted to a PO Box.

    3 months on, no issues, so rest assured not all are scammers. However as others have mentioned, buy Australia Post insurance in addition to your steps already taken.

  • +1

    For those of you who've done this sort of thing before, is there anything else you'd recommend I do here?

    Dont do it

    Done it once, got scammed, wont sell on ebay again…. They will ALWAYS side with the buyer.


  • +1

    There is no sure way to ensure everything goes smoothly with eBay sales.
    If a buyer opens a case directly with eBay that is bad enough, but if the buyer disputes a transaction with their credit card issues then you are in for one hell of a protracted mess. eBay will reclaim the sales proceeds and you can only deal with eBay, not the buyers card issuer. The process can take up to 6 months for a resolution.

  • +1

    Best way - f'off ebay and dont use it!

  • +1

    How many feedback comments did the buyer have?

    • They have 40 feedback, maybe a 3rd of that within the last year, all their feedback is positive, they've been a member for 15 years.

  • +1

    You can't wait until funds clear.

    Ebay holds funds in escrow until your parcel is marked as delivered and/or positive feedback is left for you. Then it pays you at its leisure.

    You just need to follow Ebay's bouncing ball. It says to post to address x, you post to address x. You should also use their mailing labels so Ebay can track it itself.

  • +1

    eBay NEW SCAM: Seller claims you returned a "substituted item, for refund.

    I purchased an expensive item based on seller's description - however it turned out to be Not as Described. I sent the item back, but the seller is claiming that I have sent "a substitute"… why would you do that? I have photos of the item, me repacking it, and of me sending it back… it is her original item.

    This is how an innocent transaction can so quickly turn into a nightmare.

    As for you… just don't do it. If it sounds suspicious then it most probably is.

    You could ask for licence ID, and passport number.

    My advice, don't do it…. sounds like trouble (expensive trouble).

    • +1

      As if anyone going to hand over their license / passport to a stranger.

  • Cash on delivery is best for high value items.

  • Thanks for the advice everyone. I'll add it to my list and cross my fingers :)

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