Protecting Yourself When Selling or Buying on Classified Market Places

Now in its 11th year, Fraud Awareness Month is an annual public awareness campaign that works to prevent Canadians from becoming victims of fraud. During the month of March, we will be sharing tips on how to avoid scams and protect your privacy on classified marketplaces.

Whether you are selling a car, a couch, or looking for an apartment, interactions in online marketplaces are now an essential part of everyday life for many. With tablets and smartphones, the accessibility of classified sites has increased, but so have the personal privacy threats. Our experiences with identifying and preventing cyber security risks have shown that scammers do not discriminate: whether you are selling or buying products or services online, you are a potential target to sophisticated fraudulent scams including identity theft, money gram fraud, telemarketing, and solicitation.

What’s at risk?

Sellers and buyers on the online marketplace are often faced with a dilemma of sharing their personal contact details or taking the risk of being overlooked by potential leads. Providing contact information is a prerequisite for carrying out most online transactions, but publicizing it isn’t. Making your contact information available can help you connect with a potential buyer faster; however, it also makes you more vulnerable to various fraudulent activities. Using only your name, phone number, and email address, criminals can gain access to your credit card, bank account information and even get to your address.

What kind of scams should I be aware of when using a classified site?

As online classified sites step up their security measures, scammers are deploying more sophisticated and convincing methods to circumvent these security protocols. At Privatis, we have seen firsthand the variety of scams that the simple act of publicizing your contact information on a classified site can invite. From phishing scams (email messages and Web pages that are replicas of existing, legitimate sites and businesses, which are used to trick users into submitting personal, financial, or password data) to robocalls, users face harassment on various communication channels that can lead to identity theft and fraud.

How do I protect myself?

Be aware, learn to recognize red flags and stay up to date on potential threats. If you receive offers that sound to good to be true via emails, texts, or phone calls, err on the side of caution and do not respond to them. It is also important to select a classified marketplace that protects your contact information for your online transactions. For example, AutoTrader uses Privacy Shield to “mask” the individual’s real contact information by issuing and displaying an anonymous phone number and email address in the private seller’s ad.

What to do if you have been scammed

If you suspect that someone has gained access to your account, there are steps you can take to reduce the damage and avoid becoming a target in the future. Time is of the essence, so act quickly to minimize your losses by:

1. Reporting the scam to authorities. By doing so, they may be able to bring awareness to other people and contain the spread of the scam. In addition to your local RCMP, you can contact these Canadian government & law enforcement agencies to make a report:

Canadian Anti–Fraud Centre

The Competition Bureau’s Information Centre

2. Contacting the classified site. Alert the proprietors of the online marketplace to fraudulent activity, so they can prevent further damage to their vendors and buyers.

3. Warning your friends and family. Fill them in on the details of the scam so that they can confidently identify and avoid the same threat if are faced with it.

4. If you have Privacy Shield. Simply block the unwanted communication in your Privacy Shield messages tab on desktop or mobile for telephone, text message and email.

The prevalence of security threats can hamper your experiences with buying and selling on the Internet. Privatis Technology Corporation offers solutions for secure online communications to ensure protection of your privacy and your business. Explore our website to learn more about our products and solutions.


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