My advice on when you buy using PayPal as your form of payment!

I have seen a rash of fraudulent complaints from people on Facebook lately and it breaks my heart to see good people lose their hard earned money to a scammer.

This is the advice I give to all my friends when making a purchase over the internet when the buyer insists on using PayPal as their form of payment.

First and FOREMOST NEVER and I mean NEVER use the Friends and Family option when you are buying from a stranger.  When you do so you give up the right to any recourse if the deal goes sour. When you choose the Friends and Family option you are stating that this is someone you know and trust and the PayPal Guarantee is not valid on this type of transaction. It becomes void. Many people will ask you to do this to avoid paying the PayPal fees.  You won’t be charged a fee for sending the payment but they will incur a fee for accepting the payment from you and at times it can be substantial so that is why they will ask you to do this.  Always ask the to “invoice” you with a description (this is very important) of what you are buying on the invoice.  For example if you are purchasing a pre-owned Coach Handbag make sure the description includes the style of the bag, the color of the bag, and any other details you feel are necessary to identify the bag. I have heard horror stories of people receiving dirty abused handbags instead of what was show and described to them.

My next suggestion has worked for me and others who have taken my advice.  When paying with your PayPal account opt for the payment to come from your credit card.  You will have to transfer all of the existing funds from your account to your bank leaving a zero balance in your account for this to work so if your spouse or someone you trust has a PayPal account send the money to them using the Friends and Family option (so they do not incur a charge) and then once the transaction is completed with the seller you can have the send it back to you.  By default Pay Pal will want to transfer money from your bank account to fund your transaction but there is an option for you to “change” that to your existing card card on file for the payment of the item you are going to purchase.  Make sure you do this before you check out.  This will insure that if anything goes wrong not only do you have the PayPal Guarantee (that I am told is a very long and frustrating process to get your money back) but you have the added protection of disputing the charge with your credit card company.  I have had to do this many times over the years and I always get my money back and it works.

Here are some important tips when preparing to dispute a claim with your credit card company!

1) keep all your documentation (correspondence with the seller, invoice from the seller, any photos) of what the seller sent to you in describing the bag, etc. Even if they are text messages you may need to send a photo copy of them to the bank (credit card company) as proof.  Do not delete any correspondence from the seller.  These are very important to prove your case.

2) try to resolve the issue with the seller first, the credit card company will ask you if you have and if not they will instruct you to do so – be prepared and do it before you call them to dispute the claim.

3) notify the credit card company that you are having an issue.  Tell them you are trying to resolve the problem with the seller but that you wanted to put them on notice that this has occurred.

4) if you cannot resolve the issue within a reasonable amount of time or you are not getting any response from the seller call the credit card company back and tell them you have tried to resolve the issue with the buyer and they are not cooperating and you need to dispute the charge.

If this is an “authentication” issue where you feel you have received a counterfeit item vs. a real designer piece you will need to get the piece authenticated.  There are several individuals who will “authenticate” your item for a small fee.  Make sure you check their credentials and as for references. Just ask prior to hiring them if they are accepted as an official “authenticator” for credit card disputes.  Although these “authenticators” are just people who have some type of expertise in the field there is no such thing as an “official” authentication service.  Some designer stores will look at your piece for free and tell you if it is authentic but others will not.  I had an issue with a Fendi bag many years ago that I bought from an Ebay seller.  You know the old saying “If it’s too good to be true then it probably is!” well that was the case here.  The bag looked authentic in the sellers ad but when it arrived from Canada it was nothing more than a plastic replica that you can buy at any stand on the street in New York city for $15.00. I was in a panic.  Back then it was difficult to find an authentication service and I had to beg someone to do it for me.  Fendi wouldn’t do it they told me they don’t get involved in that type of thing so I found out that a chain of women’s clothing stores (who are no longer in business) in the area carried authentic Fendi merchandise.  I called and begged them to take a look at the bag for me.  I met with the manager the following day and explained my desperate situation (without the expert opinion the credit card company was not going to give me a refund) and she agreed to write me a letter stating that the bag was indeed a fake.  She would not take any money for her services so I bought her a gift card as my thank you for helping me out.

If you suspect that your item is not a “genuine” product take it to a retail store that sells genuine merchandise and see if they will help you out in authenticating whether or not the item is legit.  This can be anything from a car part to a piece of jewelry.  The counterfeit items are getting so convincing it is hard to tell these days.  I’m not saying you shouldn’t look for a good deal but be aware of who you are buying from, check their feedback, Google them on the internet for complaints and be an informed buyer.  Do your research before you buy from anyone other than a legit retailer.  Sometimes that “bargain” is not actually a bargain when it turns out to be a fake.

Good luck!

Posted in Consumer Tips.