- Facebook Marketplace is popular due to its integration with Facebook, but it lacks protection for transactions made outside the platform.
- Profile photos and names on Facebook Marketplace provide a sense of security, but scammers still exist.
- Scammers want to move conversations away from Facebook to avoid being reported and to cover their tracks, so it’s important to stay within the marketplace and report suspicious behavior.
There are a handful of places to buy and sell used items online, but Facebook Marketplace has become the most popular. Since it’s attached to Facebook, it’s easy to communicate with people in the Messenger app. However, you can’t be protected if you venture outside of Facebook’s surveillance.
This Cybersecurity Awareness Week article is brought to you in association with Incogni.
The big benefit of Facebook Marketplace over the alternatives—especially something like Craigslist—is the profile photos and names. You don’t feel like you’re interacting with a completely anonymous person. If they have a Facebook account, they must be real, right? That’s not always the case.
“Can We Chat On…?”
Facebook Marketplace is not exempt from scams. In fact, there are quite a few well-documented scams that have gotten people who are trying to buy and sell. There’s one thing that many of these scams have in common: the buyer or seller wants to take the conversation away from Facebook.
Scammers use many different services and apps for communication. They might ask if you can chat on a messaging app like WhatsApp or Telegram, or they’ll ask for your phone number or good old-fashioned email. They may even try to message you on Facebook outside of the Marketplace. The specific destination isn’t important; it’s the fact that they want to talk to you outside the Facebook Marketplace shelter.
Why Do They Do It?
On the surface, this may seem harmless enough. Not everyone likes Facebook, right? And using an “old school” communication like text or email may seem secure. While there’s nothing inherently unsafe about emailing a stranger or chatting with someone on WhatsApp, it’s the intent that matters.
The reason why scammers want to communicate outside of Facebook is to avoid being reported and blocked from Marketplace. Once the scammer has what they want from you, they can go back and remove the Marketplace listing and the original chat, covering their tracks and preventing you from reporting them. You’re out of luck.
It’s certainly possible to get scammed on Facebook Marketplace, but it’s much easier to report a scam that you can see than it is to report something you can’t see on Facebook.
Just Say No
The good news about this type of Facebook scam is it’s extremely easy to spot. There is absolutely no legitimate reason to take a Facebook Marketplace conversation somewhere else. Everything you need to say in order to buy or sell something on Facebook Marketplace can be done right there in the app.
You might make a purchase or receive payment with an outside app, like PayPal or Venmo, but that’s a different part of the process (and should never be done sight unseen).
The simple thing to do is say “no.” Actually, you don’t even need to do that. If someone is trying to get you to move the conversation somewhere else, you should report the user and leave the conversation entirely. Again, there is no reason to ever communicate with a Facebook Marketplace buyer or seller outside of Facebook. Stay safe out there.