What to Look for in an Auction Website

What to Look for in an Auction Website

Auction websites have made eCommerce more convenient and inclusive. It is now possible for anyone from around the globe to buy and sell goods and services at any time.

But as with most online businesses, you cannot simply trust any auction website. This is because online shopping scammers use some of these sites as a front for financial fraud and other illegal activities.

Using a fake auction site exposes you to several dangers, as explained below.

Risks to buyers

  •    Fraud: Some sellers open fake websites to sell air. They offer goods and services that do not exist. You don’t receive goods you pay for.
  • You may receive goods that do not match the seller’s description.
  • Financial scams; scammers create fake websites to get your personal information and payment details. These scammers use this information to withdraw money from your accounts unlawfully.

Risks to the sellers

  • Identity theft, where your auction identity is stolen and used fraudulently.
  • Not receiving payment for goods you have sold.

To prevent becoming a victim of auction website fraud, you need to exercise care when dealing with or using auction websites. With this in mind, below are the features or things to look for in a legit site auction website.

Website Credibility/Reputation

Before buying and selling on an auction website, look at its reputation. Never join an online auction site blindly. There is nothing like trust when transacting online (eCommerce). Research your prospective website. Verify its credibility.

How do you go about this?

Look it up online and cross-check its information with other sources on the web. Find out what people think of an auction site. A website earns a reputation through the quality of its products, services, pricing, and customer care.

One trusted way of determining the credibility of a website is by checking for customer reviews. You can find trusted reviews on sites like Facebook and Reddit.

Buyer Reviews

Before buying or bidding on an item, look at buyer reviews. Next, look into the seller or buyer (individual sellers or stores). Look at their profile, ratings, and transaction history.

Verify the seller’s physical premises. Check their phone number and physical address. Doing this helps you ascertain the seller’s credibility.

Product Reviews

Avoid buying a listed item because it has a good product description and images. Instead, ensure that it’s a quality product.

Look for the product reviews. Glowing reviews will tell you that the product is good, and poor reviews mean lousy quality.

Website security

Look at the auction website’s address on top of the page. A secure web address should begin with “https” instead of “http.” It should also have a padlock symbol. The padlock appears when you try to log in or register. But it should appear in the left corner of the address bar. It’s likely a scam if it appears on the page itself

Avoid entering your personal details and payment information on an auction website that is not secure. Doing this can make you a victim of financial fraud and identity theft.

Website’s policies

Every website has terms and conditions. It has policies. So before agreeing to whatever terms, carefully read through them. Understand their rules and how the platform works. This will help you gauge your readiness to abide by the terms.

Methods of payment

Look into an auction website’s payment gateways.

Choose an auction website with convenient payment methods. Say, Visa (debit and credit cards), cashier’s checks, Payoneer and PayPal. If you are in a country that doesn’t support PayPal payments, choose a Visa site.

Most auction websites don’t use wire transfers. Instead, they support credit cards, the safest payment method for fraud, non-delivery, and guarantees.


Auction websites make money through listing fees, advertising, and buyers’ premiums. Some sites charge more than others, affecting a seller’s profitability. These fees may be too high for a first-time seller.

If you are a first-time seller or small business, go with an auction site with low listing fees. In doing so, you will make a higher profit margin.

For the case of a buyer, look at the buyer’s premium. A buyer’s premium affects how much you spend on a product. It is the price above the winning auction price. Some sites set it as a percentage of the bidding price. The higher the buyer’s premium, the more you will spend on an item.

Look for the bidding fee. Some auction websites allow buyers to bid on the items for free, while others require buyers to have a membership to bid on the items. Whatever the case is, look for a site with affordable or reasonable fees.

Look into their shipping and delivery costs, whether or not they are included in the buying price.

Dispute resolution

Understand what an auction website can and cannot do if a transaction goes wrong.

Most auction sites have a dispute resolution system in place where they can resolve any issues or disagreements between a buyer and seller.

For this reason, most online auction sites caution both buyers and sellers to have all their communications and payments online through the website’s communication and payment channels. Following their policies makes it easy for them to resolve any disputes as they have a record of all your agreements and payments.

This being so, never take communication or payment offline as it will limit your protection.


Auction sites deal with diverse product offerings. With this in mind, look for an auction site with what you want to sell or buy. You can do this by browsing through its categories and different product offerings.

Other things to look for include warranties and privacy.


In as much as auction websites have made buying and selling goods online more effortless, they have also increased the occurrence of financial fraud. This being so, it is imperative that you verify the authenticity and validity of your chosen site. Doing this will ensure that you get a good experience.

For a secure online buying and selling experience, click here.

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