Online scams still happen every day and many of us know at least one person who has been scammed in the last year alone. If we consider that 23% of people contacted by scammers end up losing money, it makes sense that even people we know well fall victim. Even though there are a few fool-proof ways to avoid scams, it’s shocking that nearly one in ten people get scammed each year.
As long as people buy and sell through an escrow payment platform, they can avoid scams in nearly every variety that they come in. An escrow service acts as a third party that safely handles the sale of goods and services between people. These providers hold the buyer’s money until they’re happy with what they received from the seller.
Trusted escrow services, like Truzo, also verify the people you’re buying from so their identity and other important information is confirmed before you buy from them. Escrow can be used for the following (and so much more):
- Buying/selling a home or renting/letting a property
- Buying a boat, car or any expensive asset
- Hiring a contractor
- Buying pets
- Buying/selling any product or service
Types of scams escrow can prevent
Scammers usually know they can’t rip people off through an escrow platform because they need to deliver on a real offer before being paid, which means they’re likely to leave you alone.
People can be scammed when buying from marketplaces because scammers pretend to be selling a real item, but after they receive your money they disappear and block or ignore you. If you think you are getting scammed, use an escrow service. This will mean your money is protected until you get what you bought, as only then will the seller get paid.
Home rental scams
Scammers can target people looking for a new home to rent and offer them fake properties to try and get unsuspecting people to send them money. Rental scammers may ask people to pay:
- A holding deposit so they can stop looking for other renters
- An upfront rental deposit and/or the first month’s rent in advance
- An upfront fee to be shown the property
Real landlords can ask for these things too but as they’re red flags of a scam, you can use an escrow service to make sure you get your money back if you are being scammed.
If it’s a scammer you’re dealing with, in most cases, they will be scared away by using an escrow system because they know they won’t get away with it. If they still attempt to follow through with their scam, you’ll get your money back when the scammer can’t prove the property is real.
Investment scammers ask someone to send them money to buy something that they say will be worth more in the future. The scammer either keeps the money for themselves or the investment is worth nothing – either way the innocent person loses their money.
When someone tries to convince you to buy into a ‘money-making opportunity’, it’s best not to send them any money because there is no such thing as a get rich quick investment. If you do want to invest, ask them to register for an escrow service so that they have their details and identity verified.
COVID-19 vaccination scams
Sadly, scammers change their way of stealing people’s money as new needs come up, like getting the vaccination during the COVID pandemic. Many people have reported paying money to scammers to jump the vaccination queue or to buy hand sanitiser and face masks in bulk, for cheap, , only to never receive the items.
When these scammers see that buyers want to use an escrow platform to send them the money instead of through bank transfer or e-wallet, they’ll soon realise they won’t get the buyers’ money because they don’t have the items to send.
Scammers try to catch people when their guard i down, like when shopping for something as innocent as a pet. These scams ask buyers to send them money for the pet and then buyers never hear from them again.
Scammers can also ask for more money and say it’s to cover the cost of paperwork or sending the pet through an airline. An escrow transaction will ensure buyers peace of mind, knowing that the pet they want is real because the money will only be paid to the seller after the pet arrives.
Truzo (Pty) Ltd (2016/390144/07) is an Authorised Financial Service Provider (FSP 51539).