Avoiding Scams When You Buy Cameras Online

When transacting online, one must be wary of scams. Let us break down the online business world into three marketplaces, and consider each in the context of scam avoidance.

Auction Sites

Internet auction sites, such as eBay, (ebay.com) rely on feedback systems. Be sure to check the seller's feedback score before making a purchase. Clicking on the seller's feedback number on an eBay auction page will bring you to the "eBay Feeedback Profile" page for that user. Ensure that the seller has a reasonable amount of feedback, and that most of it is positive. It is also wise to scroll down on the page and look at the type of feedback. Has your seller sold items on eBay before, or has he only bought items? If he has been selling items, were they expensive? Are they related the item you are looking to buy? If an account has been selling knitting accessories for the last three years and now suddenly has ten Nikon D700 DSLRs listed, that can be construed as suspicious. Make sure that the eBay sellers you are buying from are using permanent, rather than disposable, accounts.

Always pay with PayPal or another payment service that offers scam protection. With PayPal, you can easily initiate a dispute, which will be looked over by PayPal moderators. If the dispute is ruled in your your favor, you will be automatically credited the full purchase price of the item.

Internet Forums

Some internet forums include Marketplace sections. If you are buying a camera from an internet forum, look to that forum's preferred reputation/feedback system. Of these, the independent reputation server heatware (heatware.com) is the best known. Only deal with users who have sufficient feedback. On some forums, it is appropriate for established buyers to ask sellers with few positive marks on their record to ship their items before payment is sent.


Online classified sites, including Craig's List (craigslist.org) and Kijiji (kijiji.com) are good places to get used (and sometimes new) equipment at low prices. Again, use prudence in purchasing. Avoid escrow services and payment services that you are unfamiliar with. If you choose to accept checks, always remeber to take down the seller's driver's license number.

Some Additional Tips

It never hurts to establish a rapport with your seller. Contact them prior to transacting and make sure you arrive at terms
that everyone will be happy with. Ask how long they will take to ship the item and how it will be packed and handled. Insist on shipping insurance and tracking if an item is of great value.

When using PayPal or other payment services, check that the seller is verified before transferring money. PayPal includes a verfication system that allows you to see how many transactions your seller has completed successfully.

Finally, if you have been scammed, remain calm. Write a thorough and detailed letter to the dispute moderator or forum moderator and attempt to settle the dispute through established channels. Remember that not all failed transactions are the fault of the seller: shipping companies make mistakes sometimes and online fiduciary systems are subject to routine malfunctions.

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