Many people sell items on the Internet through auctions, classified ads, news groups, and chat rooms.

Know your seller. If you don't, do some research.

  • Check how the auction works. Can you cancel a bid? Don't assume that the rules used by one auction site apply to another. Some sites offer step-by-step instructions that will take you through the bidding process.
  • Find out what protections you have. Does the site provide free insurance or guarantees for items that are not delivered or not what the seller claimed?
  • Follow the strategies used in any auction. Learn the value of the item you are bidding on. Establish your top price and stick to it.
  • Only bid on an item if you intend to buy. If you're the highest bidder, you have bought it. Auction companies often bar those who back out of a deal from future bidding.
  • If the seller can't accept payment by credit card, use an escrow service. Your money is held by a third-party until you get your purchase and approve release of your payment to the seller. There is a small fee, but the peace of mind is worth it.

Remember: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is