YOU can find a wide range of used goods online, but you need to be on the lookout for fraudulent offers.
DURBAN - The online trading economy in South Africa is massive - Gumtree alone has more than 700000 live ads for goods and services - and it’s growing.

Gumtree SA general-manager Claire Cobbledick says most online sellers and buyers are genuine, but everyone needs to be alert and to take basic steps to prevent fraud:

Don’t open any suspicious website pop-ups. Contact details are an important signal. Warning signs include: bad spelling, a foreign phone number, unfamiliar email service providers.

Use Gumtree’s chat facility during initial enquiries to avoid giving out your cellphone number or email or address. However, if you are proceeding with a purchase or a sale, it’s essential for both sides to have cellphone numbers and/or email addresses, and to check they are valid and operational.

Don’t be taken in by photos. Sometimes a scammer will pull images from elsewhere. Be wary of low-grade, cropped or pixelated photos. If in doubt, ask the advertiser to send additional photos. If possible, inspect the item before paying.

If the seller or buyer is pressurising for a quick transaction, beware. Don’t be rushed into a deal.

If the price is very cheap, there may well be a problem. A real cut-price bargain, without adequate explanation, should raise alarm bells.

Never release your banking details. As a seller, do not send an item before receiving the money.

Make the online space safer for all by immediately reporting any suspicious posts or fraudulent acts. Gumtree investigates every report and blocks fraudulent traders and, in criminal cases, passes information to the police.

- THE MERCURY