18 Facebook Marketplace Scams and How to Avoid Becoming a Victim

Ecommerce opens up a broad array of goods, services, and job opportunities in our interconnected world. Make sure you know what’s legit online before handing over cash or information.
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Facebook Marketplace, like the social media platform itself, has become a bustling hub of activity. With 1.1 billion reported visitors, it’s arguably one of the largest online resale commerce sites in the world. This is great news for furniture flippers, sustainability enthusiasts, or anyone looking for a deal. However, the amount of traffic is also a huge draw for online criminals.

By now we’re wary of Facebook ads and other third-party communication across the site, including the proprietary Facebook Marketplace, and it can be easy to fall for a fraudulent transaction.

Facebook Marketplace scammers are on both sides of the platform as fake sellers and fake buyers, along with those looking to steal your identity. So how can you tap into the benefits of Facebook Marketplace without being scammed? We'll show you how to protect yourself on Facebook Marketplace and the best identity theft protection, plus some other protective tools you could use.

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In this article
Is Facebook Marketplace safe?
Facebook Marketplace scam red flags
18 most common Facebook Marketplace scams
Scams targeting buyers
Scams targeting sellers
Scams targeting both
How to avoid Facebook Marketplace scams
What to do if you’re scammed on Facebook Marketplace
How to report a buyer scam
How to report a seller scam
Facebook Marketplace FAQs
Bottom line

Is Facebook Marketplace safe?

Facebook Marketplace can be a safe and effective way to find goods or services you’ve been looking for in other markets. For people on a budget moving to a new city, it’s a way to furnish an entire apartment without breaking the bank. Furniture flippers and vintage collectors are also huge fans of the platform.

Meta, Facebook’s parent company, knows it attracts scammers along with legitimate Facebook users, which is why they have so much information available on safety. Verified badges on profiles are one way this online marketplace is battling fraud. Another is the shopping safety guide that outlines best practices. There you can find information about responsible commerce, scams, purchase protection, and how ratings work.

Ready to start buying and selling? The first step is reading through the responsibility guide. Follow this up with the purchase protections or seller protections pages for a sound foundation. This will set you up to be able to spot new scams and keep you from becoming a victim.

Facebook Marketplace scam red flags

Scammers prey on your emotions to make you think you’ll be missing out on a great sale or amazing deal if you don’t follow through on their rules. This emotional response is the basis of social engineering attacks, and they rely on you acting quickly rather than taking time to investigate. If you encounter any of these while buying or selling, it’s best to abandon the transaction:

  • Low prices for what should be high-ticket items
  • Refusing to meet up in person for exchanges
  • Moving conversations outside of Facebook Messenger
  • Asking for payment in the form of a gift card
  • Requesting deposits on items before receiving them
  • Asking for items to be shipped before payment is received
  • Buyers providing a prepaid shipping label
  • Buyers overpaying then asking for a refund of the difference
  • Transactors without a profile picture
  • Requests for your personal phone number or other information

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18 most common Facebook Marketplace scams

Because of the nature of the platform, scams are targeted at both buyers and sellers. These can include scams to steal your products or services, get you to pay for fraudulent products or services, or even identity theft. Read on so you can identify the most common scams and avoid becoming a victim.

Scams targeting buyers

1. Fake giveaways

Have you received a message telling you about the new Macbook you just won? Maybe a link to a “survey” that will get you a gift card to a store you love? These are ways to gather your personal information or gain access to your device to install malware. Be cautious of anything that directs you outside of the Facebook platform.

Using antivirus software with anti-phishing protection adds another layer of protection against these scams. We recommend checking out the following programs, which all include anti-phishing security features:

  • Avast: Along with scanning sites to verify they're safe, Avast offers Email Guardian, which scans your emails for suspicious activity and links. Phishing protection comes with all Avast plans, but you'll want to grab at least Avast Premium Security to also get a Windows firewall.

    Get Avast | Read Our Avast Review
  • TotalAV: Total WebShield is TotalAV's phishing protection feature that blocks malicious websites, protects you against scams, and lets you know whether a website is safe or not. It even marks links in your search results as safe so you know before you click. WebShield works with Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Opera, as well as Mac, Windows, Android, and iOS.

    Get TotalAV | Read Our TotalAV Review
  • McAfee: A big name in the antivirus business, McAfee includes phishing protection that verifies sites are safe and also checks out software that's running in the background. It also has an email scam reporting program where you can flag scammers and help McAfee protect against them in the future.

    Get McAfee | Read Our McAfee Review

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On Avast's website

2. Bait-and-switch items

Fraudsters will advertise what you’re looking for at a great price. When you inquire about the product, it’s suddenly “unavailable” but a higher-priced product is offered as a replacement.

3. Asking to be paid in gift cards

This is a pretty common trick that’s still in use. Scammers will ask you to purchase a gift card to send in lieu of meeting in person to exchange a product for payment. Since it’s impossible to protect a gift card, you’re scammed out of the money you spent and never receive the product or service you were trying to purchase.

4. Counterfeit items

Selling counterfeit items is a business all on its own. If you’re looking for the real deal, the most expensive brands come with a certificate or a stamp of authenticity.

For example, designer bags come with a certificate of authenticity. Jewelry has model numbers and engravings or the company name stamped. Niche jewelry designers like Lionette stamp all their pieces with their company names. Ask to see the proof of authenticity before paying.

5. Faulty products

This scam is big with electronics. Make sure you can make the product work the way it’s supposed to before paying. Either agree to meet somewhere you can plug the item in and test it, or ask for a video showing the working product. For Apple products, you can ask for the serial number or IMEI and verify with Apple support that this product is registered to the person selling it.

6. Fake house rentals

People will list a property for rent that isn’t theirs. If you want to rent, double-check with a trusted source that this property is legit. Most rentals are cross-listed. This means you’ll find them on Airbnb, Vrbo, or similar websites.

7. Car deposit/advance payment scams

When purchasing a car on Facebook Marketplace, ask for the vehicle identification number (VIN) and check sites like CARFAX or AutoCheck for the vehicle. Verify the name of the seller and make sure they have a history.

New Facebook accounts or people with less than 100 or so friends with no personal information on their page are probably scams. If you can’t verify the validity of the listing and prove the item exists and is for sale, don’t send money to hold it!

Scams targeting sellers

8. Lost package claims

A lot of people will purchase something knowing there are protections in place to keep them from losing money on a scam. They’ll collect the item, then claim they never received it. Paying to have the package tracked and signed for upon receipt may be a little more expensive, but it’ll keep you from losing out on the entire sale.

9. Overpayment scams

An example of an overpayment scam is when the buyer agrees to pay $100 for your item and then sends you $200, “accidentally” overpaying. Then, they ask you to return the difference. When the bank catches on to the fake payment, they cancel the $200 transaction. You’re the one left holding the bill!

10. Using stolen credit cards to pay

This ties in with the overpayment scam. Once the bank or credit issuer catches on, you’re left without the money and the product/service. This is why you should never accept Venmo, CashApp, or wire transfers. Facebook-approved channels are cash, PayPal, or Facebook Checkout. Using these three methods will ensure you receive the money for the item sold.

11. Receiving a prepaid shipping label

By sending you a shipping label, buyers have control over verified delivery. The “buyer” can then claim they never received the package. You never want to use a prepaid shipping label for a sale on Facebook. You’re the one who has the risk of losing out, so make sure you control the verification of delivery.

12. QR code scams

These scams can send you to a phishing site looking to extract data or steal other information. Once you enter your information, your identity, bank account information, or other sensitive data can be accessed. Our guide to identity theft protection can also help you keep your data protected.

13. Immediate interest

Did you list your $200 shoes five minutes ago and now someone is contacting you telling you to email them so they can buy your shoes? That’s almost guaranteed to be a scam. The scammer will frequently ask you to contact them via email instead of communicating through the site.

If someone is immediately interested, communicate only through Facebook Messenger. If they provide a contact method outside of Messenger, you can report and block them.

Scams targeting both

14. Fake Facebook accounts

Often fake Facebook accounts don’t have a profile picture, have just a few friends, or are brand new. Check out the person’s account to see if they have a history and network of real friends on Facebook.

15. Sending an item before payment is received

The potential buyer needs the item you are selling to be sent right away in time for a birthday or holiday. They’ll definitely pay you tomorrow once you send the tracking information letting them know it’s being shipped — except you never receive the payment.

16. Asking for your phone number

A hacker can get into your account with your name and phone number by rerouting two-factor authentication to themselves. It’s best to stay within Messenger for all transactions and not offer up any private information. 

Also, use a password manager to keep track of complex passwords so they’re harder for scammers to guess. The best password managers also help you generate hard-to-crack passwords, and these three come highly recommended:

  • NordPass: Offering a free version for one device, NordPass's paid plans are also affordable and chock full of features. Its simple and easy-to-use interface makes it easy to save new passwords and find existing ones — plus you can securely save files, notes, and credit card info.

    Get NordPass | Read Our NordPass Review
  • 1Password: If you need special password protection features, 1Password is worth a look. Along with easy password organization features, it includes Watchtower, a feature that shows you your overall password health. It also offers Travel Mode, which allows you to hide certain password vaults in case your device is stolen while you're on vacation or a business trip.

    Get 1Password | Read Our 1Password Review
  • Bitwarden: If you're a little more tech-savvy and looking for a free solution, Bitwarden might be up your alley. It's an open-source password manager built on zero-knowledge encryption and lets you save as many passwords as you want on any number of devices. However, it requires a little more setup to share passwords from Bitwarden.

    Get Bitwarden | Read Our Bitwarden Review

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17. Asking you to provide verification codes to prove your identity

Similar to the phone number scam, fraudsters will set up a Google voice number. The verification code you provide will allow them to piggyback that Google number onto your actual phone number. This way they can authenticate themselves as you without you ever knowing.

This is a straightforward phishing scam. A buyer or seller doesn’t need a completed form of your information for the transaction. Never click links from sources you don’t trust completely.

How to avoid Facebook Marketplace scams

While getting scammed is always possible, there are plenty of ways to keep yourself safe while using Facebook Marketplace. The following reminders can act like a checklist for every transaction:

  • Regularly review your bank and credit card statements.
  • Avoid anything that seems too good to be true.
  • Check the seller’s badges and reviews.
  • Communicate strictly on Facebook Messenger.
  • Use two-factor authentication with your Facebook page.
  • Use a trusted payment method that protects you like cash, PayPal, or Facebook Checkout.
  • Double-check the other person’s identity.
  • Meet in a populated, well-lit space.
  • Bring everything you need to make sure you’re getting a working product.

What to do if you’re scammed on Facebook Marketplace

Even if you’re diligent and careful, it’s still possible to be scammed. If you find yourself on the other end of a fraudulent transaction, there are steps you can take to mitigate the damage. Start by contacting your bank, filing a report with local law enforcement, and reporting the scam itself on Facebook.

How to report a buyer scam

  1. Open the item listing on your screen.
  2. Next to the buyer’s name, click see more.
  3. Click the ellipsis (the three dots).
  4. Click report buyer.
  5. Click scam, then follow the on-screen instructions to file the report.

How to report a seller scam

  1. Go to the listing you think is fraudulent.
  2. Click the name of the seller.
  3. Click the ellipsis (the three dots).
  4. Click report seller.
  5. Click scam, then follow the on-screen instructions to file the report.

After you file a report

After you report the scammer to Facebook Marketplace, it's a good time to take action to further protect your personal data and bank accounts. 

  1. Review your credit reports: You can check your credit reports for free at least once a year. Look for any unfamiliar information that could be a sign of identity theft.
  2. Double-check your bank statements: Make sure scammers didn't use your credit or debit card to make fraudulent charges. If you do see a suspicious transaction, contact your bank.
  3. Sign up for identity theft protection: Even if scammers don't act right away, that doesn't mean your info wasn't compromised. An ID theft protection service helps you monitor your identity, credit reports, and bank accounts over the long term so you can quickly spot any issues and take immediate action. Some services even monitor your social media accounts as well — a perfect choice if you're worried your Facebook account was hacked.

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Facebook Marketplace FAQs


How does Facebook Marketplace work?

In legitimate situations, a Facebook Marketplace seller lists a product or service for sale. A buyer then contacts the seller inquiring about the purchase. An agreed-upon price is reached between the two parties. The seller delivers the product or service and the buyer pays for that product or service.


Can you get scammed as a seller on Facebook Marketplace?

Yes, you can get scammed as a seller on Facebook Marketplace. There are people out there trying to trick you into fraudulent transactions through any means of payment or product scamming. Protect yourself and keep all the proof to report these scams.


How to contact Facebook for help?

Facebook has multiple pages set up to assist you if you think you’ve been scammed. Their reporting pages have all the information you’ll need.

Bottom line

Staying safe on social media might require a few extra steps, but they’re well worth it. Keeping within the guidelines of the community by only communicating through Messenger is a great start. Only accepting or paying with cash, PayPal, or Facebook Checkout can also protect you. Additionally, checking the length and validity of a seller or buyer’s account goes a long way.

With preparation and vigilance, you can effectively use a far-reaching tool like Facebook Marketplace without worrying about being scammed. Keep yourself from becoming a victim by following the guidelines above and by keeping your Facebook privacy settings locked down tight. We also recommend installing the best antivirus software and, if you're worried your data was stolen, signing up for an identity theft protection service.

By staying diligent, you can enjoy the commerce and convenience of the resale platform while also knowing your information is safe.

Learn More
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Author Details
Mary lives in Los Angeles and has been writing about tech for over 5 years. When she's not writing for work or fun, you'll find her in a theatre, at the movies, volunteering, or hiking the gorgeous SoCal landscape.