Before selling expensive merchandise over the Internet, these tips can help protect your privacy and security when you sell items in online auctions and help protect you from becoming a victim of various fraud crimes.

Research and choose your auction site carefully.

Research multiple sites before choosing one to sell your items. Read user reviews, privacy policies, terms and conditions, and understand the online support services available.  

Try before you sell.

Before you create an account to sell something, learn how the auction site works and participate as a buyer first. 

Check out the buyer's reputation.

Many auction sites review buyers as well as sellers, and use caution with a buyer who has negative ratings.

Consider using a third-party payment service. 

Third-party payment services (e.g. Paypal) allow buyers to transfer money from an online account and make payments from without exposing credit card or bank account information. Many buyers and sellers prefer using these services over personal checks

Use tracking services when shipping.

It is usually the buyer's responsibility to pay for shipping an auction item, but the seller typically chooses the shipping method. To help ensure that your item arrives in a timely manner, and to help prevent fraudulent buyers from claiming that they never received an item (when, in fact, they did), use a shipping service that includes tracking, or consider paying or charging extra for tracking services.

Use caution if you accept checks.

If you receive a check that claims to be an Official Bank Check for an amount greater than the purchase with a request to wire transfer the excess funds back to the purchaser or another party – this should be a red flag that the transaction is potentially fraudulent.

Remember that any check can be counterfeited or altered, including checks claiming to be Official Bank Checks, Cashier’s Checks, Certified Checks or Personal Money Orders.  As the depositor, you can be held responsible for the overdrafts or losses of the deposited check item if it is not honored by the drawing bank – even if the check hold on the item has expired and your bank has made the funds available to you.

Never respond to unsolicited requests to update your account information.

These could be scams that can lead to identity theft. Most legitimate companies never send unsolicited e-mail or instant message requests for a password or other personal information. If you receive a request that you think is legitimate, contact the company directly (not through the message you received) and ask for confirmation.