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Avoiding Scams & Ripoffs - ***** MUST READ FIRST ******

Posted: Wed Mar 05, 2003 5:00 pm
I'm often asked about the best way to avoid being ripped off. I believe if everyone did the 4 "Must Do" items below, nobody would lose a dime.

MUST DO THESE 4 THINGS! ---------------------------------------

TIP #1: Choose your payment method wisely!
  • Do NOT send PayPal payments as a "Personal" or "Friends or Family" payment. While it avoids fees for the seller, it offers you, the buyer, NO PROTECTION! Do NOT do it!!
  • Avoid payment methods that offer no protection, such as Western Union, Bank Transfers, Zelle, Venmo, Checks and Money Orders. Scammers seem to especially enjoy using Zelle Bank Transfers, Money Order and especially Personal/Friends or Family PayPal payments, so I would avoid those payment methods unless you are 100% certain you are dealing with a trusted, legitimate ham, and not someone POSING as a ham. PayPal and Credit Cards offer excellent buyer protection... You are on your own with other payment methods.
  • Do not send money to a 3rd party, such as the buyer's son or daughter or other family member.
TIP #2: Call the person and talk to them. You will get a sense of whether the person is a real ham, a sincere person that you want to do business with, and if they are the owner of the equipment, just by talking to them. As an extra precaution, you might use Google or Yahoo and search the phone number to see if anything interesting shows up. Does the area code match where the FCC says the ham lives?

TIP #3: Be sure the initial communication came through the Classifieds. Now that QTH blocks so many scammers, the scammers have started to answer ads by looking up your email address on the Internet, then sending users a DIRECT, PERSONAL EMAIL, bypassing our system entirely. If the initial email came from, the FROM address will be a "no-reply" email address and will contain a copy of the original ad, information about how to donate to, etc., etc.

TIP #4: Check to see if the email address matches the one listed on Are you really working with the person that owns that callsign, or just someone posing as them? PLEASE NOTE that lately (as of February 2024) the scammers have found a way to break into QRZ accounts and change the email address. Scroll to the bottom of the QRZ profile and look for "Last Update" -- was the profile recently modified? If so, this could be a sign their QRZ account was recently hacked.

OPTIONAL PRECAUTIONS! ---------------------------------------

TIP #5: Please consider only dealing with licensed hams. Many of the complaints that we see are from hams that have lost money or equipment to deals made with non-hams.

TIP #6: Don't send equipment or money to the person's "office" or "girlfriend" or "daughter", etc. Make sure the person is not impersonating a ham by verifying that you are sending money or equipment to their address listed with the FCC.

TIP #7: Check their Feedback - Search the Feedback Forum to see if there is anything being discussed about the callsign of the person you are about to deal with. You might also want to expand your search by checking the Good Seller / Buyer Beware forum and the Ham to Ham References forum also.

TIP #8: Use EXTREME caution when dealing with hams from outside USA/Canada. There are a number of sophisticated scammers that pose as foreign hams. They answer Wanted To Buy ads, offering non-existent equipment, using other people's photos of the equipment, asking for payment via Western Union. Check to see if the email address matches the one listed on, and otherwise do heavy research to confirm you are working with the right person and not a scammer.

TIP #9: Consider using Signature Confirmation when Shipping. Even if you purchase insurance when shipping, if the package is stolen from the front door or porch, most shipping providers (including USPS) will NOT reimburse you. Insurance is for shipping damage or missing mail. Stolen packages AFTER delivery are not included. Using Signature Confirmation is a small price to pay, to insure the recipient has received the package.

TIP #10: Sometimes scammers use other people's pictures in their ads, since they don't really have any equipment to sell. One idea is to ask the seller to send you a picture of the radio with THEIR QSL CARD in the picture. But BEWARE... Scammers have been actually editing photos to make it look like their QSL card on the bogus equipment -- look close, don't be fooled.

TIP #11: Don't fall for the "cashier's check SCAM", where you are sent a FAKE Cashier's Check. Often, they will have a story that they owe some money by someone in the US, so they will have them send YOU the money (usually a LOT of money) and you are to deduct the cost of your equipment, and send the balance to the foreigner, via Western Union or similar. Or, another twist is they will send you a fake cashier's check and offer you even more money to "hold" the equipment, so their "Shipping Agent" can come and pick up the equipment. See Tip #1. Use PayPal so you have buyer/seller protection. Never use Checks, Cashier's Checks, Money Orders, etc.

TIP #12: Read the excellent Safe Trading Tips by K4ICL, a very experienced trader (now SK). See his tips at THIS LINK

TIP #13: Read more tips in our Safe Trading Forum at THIS LINK

If you have other suggestions, please click the NEW TOPIC button above or below and let us know what you think!

73 - Scott KA9FOX