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Bad Signs To Look Out For At An Online Auction

Monday, July 20th, 2020
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Online auctions are known for their convenience. You can find almost everything at these events, from collectibles to electronics to heavy equipment. But, you should also know that you could run into some trouble at online auctions. Here are some bad signs to watch for.

Dummy bidders

Some auction companies or individuals selling at online auctions will try to drum up interest in their event by using dummy bidders. These are fake bidders that increase the price of whatever is being sold. For smaller, common items, these may not seem like a big deal. But for larger items, like pieces of used farm equipment, dummy bidders could increase the sale price by hundreds or thousands of dollars.

There are some ways you can identify false bidders. “Arrive” at the auction early and get familiar with the rules. Watch the bids to see how fast they are coming in and how many there are. You can also look out for bids that increase in strange amounts.


Scammers are common across the internet because it is easy for them to do their crimes. They can be found at online auctions, so you should know how to spot them.

  1. Make sure the website you are using is legitimate. See if the URL seems off and check for website security.
  2. Read the fine print. Make sure there are no strange sentences that don’t make sense.
  3. Learn about the rules and other information like shipping and returns.
  4. Do some research on the website you are using. You should be able to find reviews and ratings that will help you verify that you aren’t being scammed.

Common types of scams to watch out for

There are a variety of ways that scammers will try to take advantage of others at online auctions. Here are just a few different types of scams to know about.

Bid Shielding: This practice involves a group of people. One person will place a low bid on an item, which is followed by much higher bids from others in the group. Then, once the auction is almost over, the higher bids are withdrawn, which leaves the lowest bid to win the auction. This scam mostly affects sellers, but if your bid is lower than their lowest bid, you could lose out.

Untrue or false descriptions: Some sellers will create false descriptions for their auction listings. They can inflate the value of the piece and make it seem better than it actually is. It isn’t uncommon for disreputable sellers to leave bad things out of their descriptions too. Some sellers even alter images of their products or use images that aren’t their products at all.

False reviews: Look out for fake reviews left for auctioneers and sellers. Many systems can be easily manipulated in favor of sellers. Although having perfect ratings doesn’t always indicate a bad sign, it can. Average ratings are usually the most trustworthy.

Tips for protecting yourself at online auctions

When you attend online auctions, there are some things you can do to protect yourself and your money. First, follow the above measures. You want to be sure you are bidding at a legitimate auction. Then, you can use these tips for more help.

  • Don’t offer or spend too much money, especially if you aren’t sure if you are being scammed.
  • Contact the seller(s) first to talk about the item you are interested in buying.
  • Don’t bid on anything that seems too good to be true, because it usually is.
  • Look out for hidden fees.
  • Know about the items you are buying. This is a great way to make sure you are getting a good deal, or a least the right price, on whatever you are purchasing.
  • Choose companies you can trust. If you have gone to auctions in person or online and already trust an auctioneer, you don’t have to work with anyone else.

Looking for online auctions?

At High Plains Auctioneers, we offer a variety of different auctions online and onsite, including used farm equipment and estate auctions. You can reach us at (806) 244-6776 or Contact Us by email for more information about our Upcoming Auctions.