If you’re caring for an older adult, chances are, they like poking around on Facebook. It’s also rather likely that they have a bunch of old stuff around the house that they may be trying to sell for some extra cash on Facebook Marketplace.
That’s great! Places like Facebook Marketplace are fantastic when you’re looking to offload some old kitchen pots or a desk that you no longer use. If you aren’t familiar yourself with Facebook Marketplace, you can essentially think of it as a newer version of Craigslist. While there are options to ship an item to buyers across the country, the primary purpose is replicating the local yard sale in an online forum. You post an item, someone who lives in the same town will send you a message to negotiate a price, and once confirmed, they will come to your home (or meet you in a public place) to complete the transaction.
It’s a great service and makes it simple to sell a few old items, but unfortunately, these sites are also filled with scammers and they are trying to do a lot more than just undercut you or your parents and find a good deal.
The Facebook Marketplace Scam
The most common Facebook Marketplace scam is relatively simple and also rather clever.
A potential buyer will ask you about the item that you’re selling, getting you excited that you’re about to make some money, and then twist things around by asking you to prove that you’re a real person and not a scammer yourself.
What the scammer is doing when they ask if they can send you a code via text is trying to send you a password reset code from Facebook, or elsewhere, in an attempt to get that information back from you (disguised as a means of “proving you are a real seller”) so that they can log in as you and steal your information, money, or even identity.
It would work as simple as 1, 2, 3.
- You provide your phone number to the scammer.
- The scammer enters your phone number and clicks “forgot my password”.
- The code is sent to your phone as a password reset and you then send that code back to the scammer thinking it is harmless.
Before you know it, they’ve logged into your account and taken over. Yikes.
How To Avoid A Facebook Marketplace Scam
Remember the D.A.R.E. program from the 90’s? It’s that easy.
All you need to do whenever someone asks you to send them a code is to just say “no”.
If you’re worried about mom or dad as they become a bit more trusting of folks on the internet is to tell them that they should never respond to anyone asking to “prove that you are a real seller” by replying with a code that they want to send you. They don’t even need to say “no.” They can simply close the chat box and never respond.
Get connected. Stay protected.
If you’re concerned about a loved one, particularly an older adult, who may be a bit too trusting of others with their finances, we recommend connecting on a platform such as WayWiser. With WayWiser, you can create a Trusted Circle of family and friends, coordinate care of a loved one and monitor their financial well being to be sure they aren’t falling victim to fraudsters and scam artists.