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OfferUp scams: 10 common dangers and how to avoid them

OfferUp can be a great option for buying and selling used goods. Unfortunately, scammers sometimes try to use OfferUp to steal money, merchandise, or your identity. Our guide will help you spot the most common scams so you can enjoy safe online shopping.

OfferUp scams: 10 common dangers and how to avoid them

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

What is OfferUp?

Offerup is a popular online platform for buying and selling used goods. Buyers and sellers can access the platform via a website or the Offerup app. The platform has a built-in messaging system for safety, and users can leave feedback after a transaction is complete.

Offerup was launched in 2011 and is currently only available in the United States. The service is free for buyers and sellers, although it offers the ability to pay extra to bring more attention to your listings.

Is OfferUp safe to use?

Yes, OfferUp is safe to use, but like any online platform, bad actors can use the service to scam people or take advantage of the system. Just like Facebook Marketplace scams or eBay scams, OfferUp can be a target for thieves.

However, if you take precautions as both a buyer and seller, you can easily spot the different types of online scams.

How to spot an OfferUp scam

The best way to avoid OfferUp scams is to be aware of the signs that indicate them. Most scams, including OfferUp, have telltale signs that should raise a red flag that something isn’t right.

Signs of scam from an OfferUp buyer

If a buyer contacts you and presents any of these warning signs, it’s likely a scam.

  • The buyer wants to pay with a different app. One warning sign is if a buyer contacts you through OfferUp and says they want to pay with Venmo, Cash App, or Zelle. Venmo scams and other payment scams are common on used goods platforms.
  • The buyer seems unusually impatient. Another warning sign is if the buyer is in an unusual hurry to purchase your item. Usually buyer impatience is combined with other warning signs.
  • The buyer offers more than the asking price. If a buyer offers more than you’re asking for, that’s a sign of a scam. This request is usually combined with other warning signs to complete a scam.
  • The buyer asks you to ship the item. If the buyer is asking you to ship the item and do so through OfferUp, it’s usually a sign of a scam. This type of shipping scam was one of the early dangers of selling on Craigslist, and the scam has now moved to OfferUp.

Signs of scam from an OfferUp seller

Sellers on Offerup have their own scams to take advantage of buyers looking for a deal. Below are some warning signs to be aware of when buying on OfferUp.

  • The seller sends you a link. If the seller sends you any type of link to click on or visit, don’t do it. That’s a red flag that they’re trying to use phishing. Never click on suspicious links to identify a fake website. Simply clicking on a link is sometimes enough to compromise your information.
  • The seller asks for personal information. If the seller asks for your phone number, email address, or other information, they may want to use it for a phishing scam. Try to keep all your communications on the OfferUp platform.
  • The price is too low. Many scam sellers list items in high demand with ridiculously low prices. If the price is too good to be true, it probably is.
  • No history or reviews. Some legitimate sellers may have zero feedback and are simply new to the platform. But if the seller has no history or past reviews, be extra cautious and look for other warning signs.
  • The seller demands to meet at a specific location. If the seller insists on meeting at a strange location or only one location, it’s a warning sign. Only meet in safe areas, such as the parking lot of a local police station.
  • The seller refuses to meet in person. Some sellers will not want to meet and insist you send money first. Never send money if you plan on picking the time up in person.

10 common OfferUp scams

Below are the 10 most common OfferUp scams you should be aware of when buying or selling to have a safe online shopping experience.

Sometimes sellers will ask you to click on a link that leads to a fake website that looks like OfferUp. Scammers use fake sites for phishing attacks that could result in a stolen identity.

Warning signs:

  • The buyer or seller sends you a link and asks you to click it.
  • The buyer asks for your email address to send you a link.

2. Requests to confirm fake verification codes

This scam is hard to detect because it seems like the scammer is actually trying to avoid a scam. In the verification code scam, the seller will ask for some verification code to confirm your identity. However, the scammer uses that verification code to take over your account or validate another service under your name. The OfferUp app has its built-in verification, known as TruYou. Never participate in any verification away from OfferUp.

Warning signs:

  • If a seller asks for any verification code.
  • The seller directs you on how to verify your account.

3. OfferUp email scams

OfferUp email scams are any type of phishing scam in which the buyer or seller is trying to get your personal and financial information. They are similar to the OfferUp phone number scam in which the scammer asks for your phone number.

Warning signs:

  • The buyer is insistent on getting your email address.
  • The buyer makes excuses as to why they need your address to send you something.

4. Overpayment scams

An overpayment scam is when a buyer contacts you and pays more than you ask, usually when shipping an item. After sending payment, they’ll say they paid too much by mistake and then ask you to refund the overage.

However, this is a scam. The first payment was fraudulent, and they keep the overage you send them. This is a common tactic with Cash App scams on platforms like eBay or OfferUp.

Warning signs:

  • The buyer asks for a refund after paying too much.
  • The buyer pays via one method and then asks for a refund through a different method.

5. Fake accounts with multiple listings

In the fake account scam, a user posts the same item multiple times under the same account or uses different accounts to list the same item.

Warning signs:

  • Check the seller’s account to see if they list the same item multiple times.
  • The item for sale is the only item they have ever listed, and it’s a new account.

6. Counterfeit scams

The OfferUp app can be where counterfeiters try to unload their phony goods. Generally, this involves trendy personal tech items like AirPods or luxury items like watches or purses. Some Amazon scams are similar to this OfferUp version.

Warning signs:

  • The price is simply too good to be true. Nobody would sell a real Rolex watch for $100.
  • The seller has duplicate listings for the same item.

7. Bad checks

Writing bad checks is an old scam. It’s just been adjusted to work with OfferUp. The buyer will offer you a check to pay for an item. However, it’s a bad check, and your bank won’t accept it.

Warning signs:

  • The buyer offers a check or says they forgot to bring cash.
  • The buyer makes excuses as to why they can’t use cash.

8. Shipping fee scams

The OfferUp shipping scam involves an item you are selling. The buyer offers to pay for shipping but then sends you an invoice. This is almost always a scam, and you can use the built-in OfferUp shipping calculator to check shipping costs.

Warning signs:

  • Any offer to pay shipping or pay for shipping charges off of the platform.
  • The buyer attempts to complicate the process by adding shipping payments or invoices.

9. Empty box scam

The empty box scam involves sellers listing an item for sale. The seller shows the item complete with a box but is only selling the box. They will generally include the text “box only” somewhere hidden in a long description.

Warning signs:

  • A long description that is a wall of text. The seller is trying to hide the “box only” disclaimer.
  • Listings that only show a box or use a stock photo of the item.

10. Sellers outside the country

Sellers on OfferUp who claim to be outside the country might be scammers. In this scam, they may claim to live in the U.S. but are currently out of the country. They’ll often include a fake story of why they need the money quickly.

Warning signs:

  • The seller claims to be outside the country on business, vacation, or military service.
  • The seller tells a story about why they are desperate for money, possibly explaining why they listed the item so cheaply.

What to do if you get scammed on OfferUp

If you’ve already been scammed, you can take several actions to try to recover your lost money, but you have to act fast.

  • Report the incident to OfferUp. You can report a user on the app or in the desktop version. Click on their profile and select “Report user” from the options menu.
  • If you gave out any information as part of the scam, immediately change your passwords for those services. If you gave out any bank information, contact your bank immediately to report the issue.
  • If you used OfferUp for payment and shipping, you can request a refund by clicking on the OfferUp notification for that item and selecting “Request refund.”
  • If someone scams you in person, contact your local police department to report the incident as a theft.
  • If you receive a package you didn’t order, that may be a brushing scam. Contact the company immediately to report the issue.

How to avoid scams on OfferUp

Following these guidelines on OfferUp will prevent you from falling victim to common scams.

  • Don’t communicate or make arrangements off of the OfferUp platform.
  • Never click on a link sent by a buyer or a seller. Follow these steps to learn what to do when you click on a suspicious link.
  • Never use an outside payment service like Venmo, Zelle, or Cash App.
  • Check the seller for reviews and past listings.
  • Never send any verification information to another user.
  • Check that the photos of the item are real and not stock photos or from another listing.
  • Read the description carefully to ensure they aren’t making any disclaimers, like the empty box scam.
  • Create a strong password for your OfferUp account. Learn what is considered a strong password.