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Trust, but verify, internet sales and auctions

by Mark Gregory | January 16, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.

LITTLE ROCK -- A number of Arkansans enjoy saving money after the holidays by shopping after-Christmas sales online, including social media marketplaces, internet classifieds and internet auction websites. But while these platforms allow for ease of commerce and often feel like shopping from a friend instead of a retailer, they are also a hotbed for scammers who exploit that sense of community, according to Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.

Rutledge, in a news release, urged Arkansans to use caution on auction-style sites, classifieds and in marketplaces because they may present opportunities for scam artists.

"Arkansans should be vigilant when making online purchases," she said. "There are many bad actors around the world seeking to steal and defraud hardworking individuals who do not research the site or item being purchased."

Her office said consumers looking to make online purchases from social media, online auction platforms or online classifieds can follow these tips to ensure that they are safe when online shopping:

• Know the website that is being used. Know the terms and conditions.

• "Know what you are bidding on or purchasing before you make your offer. Beware of counterfeit goods," the release said.

• Ask for additional photos of the item to make sure the seller has the item.

• Purchase the item through a website that offers protections to buyers and sellers.

• Use the most secure payment option for the transaction. Debit cards and credit cards offer more security than cash, check, wire transfers, or other online payment methods. Many payment methods offer buyer protections or allow users to dispute charges.

• Keep all copies of transaction information, including correspondence with the buyer or seller.

• Do not give out a Social Security number, driver's license number, or date of birth.

• Beware of cashier's checks. Often fraudulent cashier's checks are used in scams.

• If buying a product locally, meet at a designated public location. Oftentimes, police departments and sheriff's offices serve as well-lit and safer public exchanges.

• Beware of work-from-home opportunities and "business opportunities" listed in online classified ads. "If you are told that you will make a lot of money without much effort, it is likely a scam," it said.

For more information and tips to avoid scams and other consumer-related issues, visit, email [email protected], or call the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Hotline at 800-482-8982.

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