How to protect yourself from textbook scams

Textbooks are so expensive!! I am sure we all want to save some money on textbooks by buying second hand where we can.

There is nothing wrong with buying second-hand items – you save money, the seller gets some money back and it clears their bookshelf.

However, it pays to be vigilant when purchasing anything online.

If you follow the Charles Sturt Social Facebook group, you may be aware that there have been some textbook scams doing the rounds. Unsuspecting students thought that they were getting a bargain second-hand deal only to find themselves out of pocket with no books, and unable to contact the seller, or (if still in contact) being fed numerous excuses.

If you find yourself in this situation, please contact the Police with all the details of the incident.

Going forward, how do you protect yourself from being scammed?

Do some research  

Research the seller, a simple search of their name could link to posts where others are trying to warn people about their experiences with them as a seller. Check out their seller ratings, Facebook Marketplace and eBay both have the option to view recent feedback on the seller. If they have no record, are a brand-new account, or negative feedback then walk away. Also, do some research on what the going rate for that item in Marketplace or eBay is.

If it seems too good to be true, it probably is

If you think you have found the deal of the century, all the textbooks you need, totalling $300 retail for only $30, then this should raise red flags.

Not all sellers selling cheap items will be scammers, but these are the ones you should treat with caution, particularly if they are interstate from you. If you are in the same town, you can meet up before handing over the cash

If you are studying online this may not always be an option, which leads to the next tip.

Choose a payment method carefully.

Most scammers will insist on payment through direct bank transfer, money order, money transfer service, prepaid gift cards or via cheque. If you are requested to make payment through these methods, and no other alternative is acceptable, then walk away from the “deal.”

Acceptable forms of payment to protect yourself can include:

  • Cash on Delivery through Australia Post: this is an option where your item is sent to a post office and you then pay for it upon collection.
  • Paying with PayPal: ensure that when sending money via this method, you select ‘Paying for an item or Service’ to ensure their Buyer Protection policy applies.

Be aware, but don’t be alarmed. You can read more about buying/selling scams on the ScamWatch website. If you think you have been scammed, ScamWatch provides information on how to report a scam.

If you decide that buying second-hand is too risky, but you still want to save some money on textbooks, check out booko.com.au which is a comparison site for book prices, listing the prices from multiple sellers in one location.

You can also get student discounts for Booktopia through MyUniDays (a student discount provider that is free to join).

Stay safe online and share this post with others to warn them how to avoid being scammed.