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  • Cameron Oglesby

Watch out! Spammers have found a juicy new target.

It's Facebook Marketplace, where more than a billion people buy and sell merchandise each month.

It's also turned into a paradise for spammers. 9 out of 10 online shopping scam victims say the were scammed in 2021, and that number has been rising, according to the FTC. Unlike other platforms, Facebook Marketplace offers much more direct interaction and conversation between buyers and sellers. And that gives scammers more opportunities to trick victims in ways like these:

Creating fake accounts – Some scammers trick people into buying fake or nonexistent items and then promptly disappear with the money. So before you buy check out the seller's profile. Specifically, look for the date the Facebook account was created. Brand-new accounts should be a red flag; most Facebook accounts are 10 years old, if not older.

Communicating or paying on a different platform – That way, they can get your money on something that's irretrievable, like Venmo. Facebook's Purchase Protection covers only payments made through Facebook Checkout.

Your purchase is in the mail – Scammers ask for payment up front and even show screenshots to "prove" they've sent the item, but they and your money are long gone. The ideal way to prevent this is to inspect and pick up the item in person. If they're out of town, or for some other reason they can't do this, then ask them to send you photos and video before you pay. And if you do pay, pay through Facebook (see above).

Selling phony merchandise – Anybody can post a photo of something rare and valuable, and selling it at prices that are unbelievably low. That's why Facebook Marketplace has so many counterfeit or pirated merchandise priced suspiciously below market. If you "buy" it, the seller takes the money and runs. So check its market price on Facebook Marketplace first – before you engage. If you do engage, ask the seller for multiple photos and a video of the item before you buy, and do a reverse image search. Remember, if something looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Selling items that don't work – A related scam is selling an item at a reasonable price, but it doesn't work. This is particularly true of electronics. Be sure to meet with the "seller" to turn on and test the item to make sure it works properly. If it doesn't, take your money and walk away, even if they push you for a fast desicion.

Advance payments – This "reservation" or "pay in advance" scheme is one of the easiest ways to get scammed. A scammer will tel you that the item's so popular, you'll have to place a deposit to make sure you get it. Instead, you never receive the item, and the scammer disappears with your money. Better to walk away, particularly if the scammer starts in with high-pressure tactics.

Car deposits – This is a variation on the advace payment scam, except for cars. Scammers ask you to transfer a fee to hold a car, then, with payment in hand, give the buyer a fake address when it's time to meet up. Do your research ahead of time with Kelly Blue Book (or other well-known sites) to learn what you should expect to pay. Before buying, Facebook's Help Center also recommends requesting a vehicle history report from the FTC and schedule a car inspection.

Bait and switch – If a seller changes the price of an item or tries to sell you a different, more expensive one, run, don't walk to the nearest exit.

Zelle scams – Zelle features instant transfer, and this can lead to sever types of fraud. Scammers target sellers by using a fake or stolen credit card to pay through Zelle and send more money than the item's priced for. Then they ask you to send a check or Zelle with the "overpayment" Or they might ask a buyer to to pay them through Zelle and then take off with the money without sending the product. Instead, say with more secure services like Facebook Checkout instead.

8 simple ways to thwart them –

  • Research – Before you do business on Facebook Marketplace, verify who you're talking to. Check a seller's profile for negative reviews and avoid new accounts with no reviews at all.

  • Pay only through Facebook – ,That way, if something goes wrong, your money will be protected.

  • Get a tracking number if you're getting a product by mail, and make sure to use Facebook Checkout.

  • Look before you leap – Use Facebook Marketplace's filters to narrow your search to local pickup, and meet the seller so you can try before you buy.

  • Don't pay until you actually receive the item – Exchange your money and the item at the same time, in a well-lit, visible and public location.

  • Don't go alone – Facebook suggests bringing someone with you or, at the very least, sharing your meeting schedule with a friend or family member.

  • Decline overpayments – And request all payments go through Facebook Checkout.

  • Don't share sensitive information like your bank account, credit card and social security numbers, date of birth, or even phone number.

Of course, there are other, honest, ways to dissipate your hard-earned assets. Some senior care companies, with the best of intentions, bundle different services into packages. This is fine of you need every single service in the package, but if not, you lose both money and independence over time. Others may lack a way of defining which services you need and which you don’t, with the same result.

That’s not the way we at Senior Insights work. Before we recommend any care, we conduct a thorough three-part assessment of your physical, emotional, cognitive, and psychosocial needs with you and your family. Only then do we create a custom-designed holistic coordinated senior care management plan built around your individual priorities, values, preferences, schedule, hobbies and interests, and trade-offs you’re willing to make. And rather than keep that plan static, our monthly registered nurse visits include mini-needs assessments, to make sure your care matches your needs as they change over time.

Please contact us to lean more about senior care management planning that saves the two costs of unnecessary over-care: the monetary cost and the cost to independence.

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