How To Identify Scam Buyers When Selling Art Online
Learning how to identify a scam when selling art online is a vital skill all artists should learn to protect themselves!
So, you are selling art online because you know that the online art market is a profitable one. Perhaps by now you have posted your art and maybe even had a prospective customer inquire. But, you need to be smart in the way you choose handle these transactions. When selling art online the challenges are different then when selling in person – mostly because we cannot see the interested party. When we can physically see the prospect, we can usually conclude without hesitation the legitimacy of their offer. So the question is; what do you need to look out for in order to enure you are selling art online safely?
1. Be alert for buyers who send generic messages. When a person emails a response to your art listing, does he/she refer specifically to the piece you are selling, or is the message general? A legitimate buyer will say something like, “I’m interested in the piece titled “Moon Dance” you’re selling.” A scammer often says, “I am interested in the item you have for sale,” without any specific reference.
2. Evaluate email responses for their level of literacy. Many scammers are based overseas, so their English skills are often poor. If a response is riddled with spelling and grammatical errors or seems to be written by someone who isn’t fluent in English, beware.
3. Only deal with local buyers. If the buyer claims to be in another state or country and wants to buy your art sight unseen (especially more expensive original pieces), you’re probably dealing with a scammer.
4. Never agree to accept a check for more than your item’s purchase price and send the difference back to the buyer. Scammers often send forged checks as payment. They’ll claim they were given the check by someone who owes them money. For example, they might send a $1,000 check as payment for a $300 item. They’ll ask you to cash it and wire $700 back to them. By the time the check is discovered as a fake, your money will be long gone and you’ll be liable to your bank.
5. Give out as little personal information to a buyer as possible. If he/she needs to come see the item, you’ll have to give your address. Beyond that, you should never give personal information like your bank account or Social Security number, PayPal login, even if the buyer claims to need them to make payment. Insist on cash, send them an invoice via PayPal (or have them click the Pay Now Button on your profile) or send a certified check from a local bank instead.
6. If the buyer pays by check, take it to the bank on which it is drawn and cash it there before turning over the your art. Don’t accept a check that isn’t drawn on a local bank, and don’t complete the sale on a weekend or holiday when you can’t cash the check immediately.
You’ll be able to recognize scam if you always look for the signs of a scam artist. However, even if these signs do not appear, never forget that if you’re uncomfortable with a situation, follow your gut and tell the buyer you’re not going to go through with the transaction. You don’t owe him/her any explanation.
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