Sections on this page
- How an eBay Local Pickup Scam Works
- How To Beat and Avoid eBay Local Pickup Scams
- eBay Local Pickup Scam Examples
- Have You Fallen for the eBay Local Pickup Scam?
- Frequently Asked Questions
The main way to beat eBay local pickup scams is to always send your items to the buyer versus allowing them to pick it up in person. While it may be more convenient and save postage, allowing local pickup opens you up to this eBay scam that could otherwise be avoided.
How an eBay Local Pickup Scam Works
An eBay local pickup scam is where the buyer offers to pick up the item in person but then claims they never received it. Unfortunately, when you use local pickup on eBay, eBay has no way to verify that the item was delivered to the buyer, so scammers are quick to take advantage of this.
Buyer Asks to Pick Up the Item Locally
After buying your item, the buyer asks if they can pick it up locally versus you sending it to them. They may say they live relatively close, so it makes more sense for them to swing by and grab the item from you.
They could also explain that they are heading out of town soon and don’t have time to wait for it to arrive via a shipping company or the mail. In some cases, they could even offer to pay the shipping fee as long as they can pick it up in person.
Example Message from Scammer
I live in the area so I can come pick the item up myself so you don't need to pay for shipping or go through the hassle of going to the post office. I can still pay shipping costs. I just need it as soon as possible since I'm leaving town and won't be home to accept the delivery.
You Meet the Buyer
Next, you meet the buyer, or they come to your house for the pickup. After they take the item with them, they file a claim saying they paid for the item but never received it.
eBay Refunds the Scammer—You Lose Your Money
Since you didn't send the item through the mail or a shipping company, there’s no documentation proving you transferred the product to the buyer (i.e., scammer).
eBay will see the case in favor of the buyer and refunds the money—they get to keep the item, essentially free of charge, and you’re left without your money and item.
How To Beat and Avoid eBay Local Pickup Scams
The best way to beat an eBay local pickup scam is to avoid local pickups altogether. In addition, sending items with a tracking number is the best way to protect yourself from these scammers, as you’ll have evidence that the buyer/scammer received the item.
Add “No local pickups” to your listing details to avoid buyers (and scammers) requesting it. When shipping items, make sure you get tracking information and pay for insurance if the item is valuable.
What If Local Pickup is the Best Option?
In some situations, however, local pickup is one of the best options. For example, if you’re selling a refrigerator or large piece of furniture—local pickup is much more convenient and cost-effective than shipping it. If you need to use local pick up, you should ensure the buyer pays for the item electronically. That way, their credit card or PayPal account details are included in the transaction.
If you agree to local pickup, once the buyer has the item:
- Have them print and sign their name on a paper receipt.
- Take a photo of their driver's license to confirm their identity.
- Tell them they can cover their license number in the picture if that makes them more comfortable.
- Have them acknowledge they received it using eBay’s messaging system.
The steps above will give you proof that the buyer picked up their item. If the buyer/scammer files a claim with eBay saying they never received the item, you can offer this proof to eBay and win the dispute.
If a buyer requests local pickup, another safe option is to have them pay cash for the item upon pickup. Although these transactions aren't covered by eBay's protection policies, with a cash transaction, the buyer won't be able to scam you out of your money.
Red Flags of eBay Local Pickup Scams
Although not every request for local pick up is an attempt to scam you, here are some signs that should raise some red flags:
- The buyer requests to pick up the item because they have to run out of town.
- The buyer says they want to both pick the item up in person and pay you in cash.
- There’s no electronic record of who engaged in the transaction with cash payment, making it harder to prove.
- The buyer requests a pickup for an item that can easily be shipped.
eBay Local Pickup Scam Examples
In the following example, the seller agreed to meet the buyer, who paid with $650 cash or a stolen credit card. Two weeks after the exchange, the buyer filed a chargeback claim with eBay. eBay granted the buyer the chargeback, refunding their money, and the seller was only offered a $500 merchandise credit.
The following example illustrates how important it is to get proof that the buyer received the item. Without it, when the buyer (i.e., scammer) opens a case with eBay stating they never received it, you have proof to offer.
Have You Fallen for the eBay Local Pickup Scam?
If you’ve fallen for an eBay local pickup scam, you should immediately contact eBay and report the matter. Include any messages exchanged between you and the buyer, including the day and time of each correspondence.
If You’ve Already Given the Scammer the Item
If the buyer has picked up an item from you instead of getting it shipped, you may still be able to avoid getting scammed. You should immediately contact the buyer through eBay’s messaging system and request confirmation that they received it. It’s essential to do this through eBay’s messaging system instead of over the phone, through text messages, or even email. This way, you have a written record within eBay’s system that the buyer received the item.
If the buyer refuses to provide evidence that they received the item, you will at least have evidence—directly in eBay’s system—that they either dodged your question or refused. This can help your case if the buyer tries to claim a refund.
Report the eBay Pickup Scam to Authorities
You should also report what happened to the authorities, including the:
- Local police
- Federal Trade Commission
- FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)
Provide them with messages exchanged between the scammer and yourself, listing screenshots, and anything else connected to the incident. It may also be helpful to the authorities if you immediately jot down any details about the perpetrator while they are fresh in your mind. This would include:
- Physical attributes
- Apparent gender identity
In some situations, the authorities may be able to retrieve video evidence of the transaction from cameras pointed in your direction or that of the seller, so writing down details about precisely where the transaction took place may also help.