How to recognize a scam email and what to do about it

Unfortunately, scammers are commonplace when selling online. Chances are, if you’ve been selling online for more than a little while, you’ve run into one or two along the way.

A “scam” sounds like a scary word. But, in the online world, it really isn’t. It’s just mildly annoying!

Today, we want to put your minds at ease, by answering the following questions:

  1. How can you tell if a suspicious email is a scam or not?
  2. What security measures has Zibbet put in place to prevent scammers contacting members?
  3. Does the scammer have access to any of my personal details (email address, mailing address etc)?

So, let’s get into it!

1. How can you tell if a suspicious email is a scam or not?

Most scam emails are generally easy to pick. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If it sounds suspicious, it probably is. Trust your instincts!

Here’s some common characteristics of e-commerce related scams we’ve come across:

  • They request that your product be picked up by a special courier
  • They ask questions about your product that can be answered by reading the description and other information in the listing. For example, ‘Is this item still available for purchase?’ Or ‘What is the price?’
  • They ask you to invoice them through PayPal for payment, or another payment method, like Western Union
  • The email has extremely poor grammar and misspellings

If you’ve come across other common characteristics, please share in the comments.

2. What security measures has Zibbet put in place to prevent scammers contacting members?

To contact a seller on the Zibbet marketplace the scammer must do two things:

  1. Register for an account on Zibbet
  2. Confirm their email address is real, by clicking a button we send them in their email address

Once the scammer does these two things, they can send messages to our sellers on the Zibbet marketplace. We don’t want to make the bar too high, as we don’t want your real potential buyers to jump through hoops to contact you. However, we are looking to implement more advanced security measures in the near future, such as preventing new members from sending more than “x” number of messages. This will help limit the amount of emails the scammer can send, therefore limiting the number of members that will receive the scam email.

As soon as a scammer is reported to us, they are suspended from Zibbet. However, persistent scammers have multiple “real” email addresses and simply register for another account.

NOTE: there are currently no spam prevention tools on the Zibbet websites. On your website, there is no concept of being a "Zibbet member", therefore your buyers don't have to register in order to contact you. That's the way it should be, since this is YOUR website and in your buyer's minds it has nothing to do with Zibbet. If spam becomes a problem via the contact forms on your website, we will take preventative measures. Fortunately, so far this hasn't been too much of an issue.

3. Does the scammer have access to any of my personal details (email address, mailing address etc)?

No, they don’t. The scammer only has access to the details that you make public in your store. However, it’s really important to note that if you reply to the scam email, they will then have your email address. We highly recommend not replying.

Zibbet doesn’t have an internal messaging system. When you’re contacted through Zibbet, the email goes directly to your inbox. It appears as if it comes from Zibbet, but when you hit “reply”, it will swap in the person’s email address that contacted you. Then, you continue to communicate through email. This is much better from the buyers point of view, as they don’t want to keep signing into Zibbet to reply to your messages.

If you’re wanting to report a scammer, simply hit “reply” and copy and paste that email address you see and send it to us. We’ll make sure they’re suspended ASAP. Then, just hit delete! Don’t mark it as “Junk”, as the email appears as if it’s coming from Zibbet, so you don’t want to mark our emails as “Junk”, or you may not hear from us again! 🙁

Finally, if you’re ever in doubt, please contact us. If you’ve received a suspicious email, chances are we’ve heard it all before (or we’ve recently suspended the person that contacted you!) and we can advise you on whether we think it’s a scam or not. When you’re signed into your account, you’ll see a green circle in the bottom right hand corner – you can just send us a message through there any time.

If you have any interesting scam stories, or just want to add your thoughts that may help others in the community, please share in the comments below!

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