At PaySAFE we pride ourselves on providing protection against scams and fraud for our users through online escrow services. But just as there are numerous common online scams that exist in the world of classified ads, there are also some common online escrow fraud schemes. Check out the five tips below so you can be assured that the company you choose to protect your purchase is on the up-and-up.
1. Call Customer Service
More and more business is being conducted online, but any escrow service that doesn’t list a phone number of business address should be a red flag. Anytime you’re doing research on an online escrow company you should be sure to call any customer service or helpline – just to check. While you’re on the phone, it’s also a great chance to ask for answer to any questions that aren’t answered on the company’s website.
2. Look for Copycat Sites
It’s not uncommon for scammers to piggyback on the reputation of legitimate businesses. Be wary of any site that doesn’t end in .com or .org web address. Sites that contain dashes – like online-escrow.com or escrow-services.biz – in the main URL are also commonly used tactics to fool potential users.
3. How Should You Pay?
Legitimate escrow companies will never ask for in-person payment or transfers from companies like WesternUnion or MoneyGram. Your primary means of funding escrow should involve wire transfers between the two financial institutions. You should also be provided with transaction, account and routing numbers for the wire transfer.
4. Look for Third-Party Verification
Many escrow companies will provide proof on their site as to whether or not they’re members of organizations like the Better Business Bureau, or use protections like SSL encryption or TRUSTe. While scammers can simply post emblems of these organizations on their site, these symbols are a great place to start when it comes to vetting any escrow company.
5. Ask Around
If it’s your first time using an online escrow service, ask around. Recommendations from friends and coworkers can help narrow down options and point you in the right direction. If you’re buying from an online classifieds site, calling and asking for the company’s recommendation can also be a great place to start.
Regardless of the online escrow company you choose, be sure to do your homework. While escrow companies can provide invaluable protections when you’re looking to buy or sell high-value items, there are also those that look to take advantage of those seeking protection. For more tips on safely and securely buying online, be sure to check out our other posts on fraud and scam protections.