Many legitimate Facebook Marketplace sellers accept cash on the doorstep if you go to collect the item in person.
Santander is blocking customer payments when shopping on Facebook Marketplace unless they tick a box saying they have seen the item they are buying in person, Money Mail can reveal.
The number of scams on the platform — where anyone can list items for sale — have exploded this year.
More than 7,000 Santander customers have reported losses of £6.5 million to fraudsters on the site, up 50 per cent on last year.
Anyone who tries to pay for an item on Facebook Marketplace using Santander’s online banking app will have their payment frozen unless they confirm they’ve seen the goods.
Bait: Popular items used in Facebook Marketplace scams include designer shoes, Moncler gloves, jewelled necklaces, coffee machines, expensive watches and Le Creuset pots
However, ticking the box can weaken a customer’s chances of getting reimbursed if it turns out to be a scam and they did not see the item beforehand.
Santander says it would still review the circumstances, in case the victim was vulnerable or socially engineered into giving the bank false information.
Banks currently shoulder the cost of refunding victims so continuously update the barriers in place to prevent scams.
Money Mail has warned for months that customers lack protection when buying items on the trading site.
Our Stop The Social Media Scammers campaign has called for a secure payment system to be put in place on social media platforms to protect users.
In some cases, items listed on Facebook Marketplace never turn up after payment, leaving users out of pocket.
Santander, which made the change last week, is the first bank in Britain to single out the site within its payment systems.
When buying goods online, customers are first shown a warning that says: ‘Around 70 per cent of all the scams we see are people making payments to buy goods online.
‘We want to help protect you from these scams by giving you some important information.’
They are then asked to select which online site they are buying the item from. By clicking Facebook Marketplace, customers are shown a tailored scam warning about the risks of shopping via the platform.
It says: ‘This is a high risk payment. Facebook Market-place has a policy to protect you against scams. It says you shouldn’t send money directly into a seller’s bank account.
‘Instead, you should use a secure person-to-person payment, such as PayPal. Check the item in person before you pay for it. Make sure the item is real and not a fake, it’s in the condition you expected it to be, and it works as described.
‘Facebook Marketplace doesn’t offer protection for you as a buyer. If you pay ahead of collection, you risk losing your money.’
When clicking continue, customers are asked to answer: ‘Have you seen the item in person?’, by ticking one of the three following: ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘yes, a picture or video’.
Those who do not tick the ‘yes’ box and are not paying via a secure means — making a credit or debit card payment or using PayPal — will be unable to send the money through to make the purchase.
In the UK, Facebook Marketplace does not have a built-in payment service, unlike eBay or PayPal, while Amazon uses a credit and debit card payment facility.
So shoppers typically use bank transfers to send money directly to sellers, leaving them far more exposed if something goes wrong.
PayPal offers buyers recourse if there is a problem with their purchase, while buyers who use a debit or credit card can make a claim to their card provider for a refund if something goes wrong.
More than 7,000 Santander customers have reported losses of £6.5million to fraudsters on Facebook Marketplace
Many legitimate Facebook Marketplace sellers accept cash on the doorstep before collection. Chris Ainsley, head of fraud risk management at Santander, says:
‘Customers are losing more than ever to criminals on Facebook Marketplace and, as Christmas approaches, we can expect this to increase.
‘Building on existing measures in place to protect customers, this latest move will prompt our customers to think twice before handing over money to any potential fraudsters.’
Payments will be processed for those who say they have seen the item in person, but they will still be warned their cash may be at risk.
Shoppers between the ages of 18 and 25 are more likely to fall victim to Facebook scams.
Over-60s are the second most likely age group but, typically, lose the largest amount, at an average of £2,450 per scam, the bank warns.
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