Penny auction sites: is it all bad?

safetyFor some people, the term penny auction sites have become synonymous with fraud. For others, however, these sites provide a safe haven, away from everyday worries; a place where shopping blend with fun. These seemingly clashing positions share a common core: the need to label these bidding sites either for better or for worse. But is this really necessary? Must we rule out an activity because some sites have failed to do their job or because unaware users have been victims of scam?

When penny auction sites appeared on the internet back in the mid 2000s, many people thought the fad would be short-lived. That is, stemming out of necessity in times of crisis, who would want to spend hours bidding in front of a computer, just to see if they could save a dollar or two. Time would show us that, regardless the economic need, there is another kind of need that penny auction sites manage to satisfy, somehow. How to join in these entertainment sites without risking being scammed is the question.

Safety First

There are numerous safety measures new participants could take before joining any site like doing research, reading reviews and asking around: after all, word of mouth hasn’t lost its effectiveness, yet. Even in the cyber world, we want to know what other people’s experiences were like. But that is not the prevention we will tackle now. Even when many detractors claim that nothing is real or safe on the internet, the truth is that you can find a secure site here and there. In fact, many different means to ensure safety have been devised over time. This is especially true of sites in which economic transactions are carried out. Here are some of the safety features you should look for when analyzing which penny auctions site to join:

Safety payment measures: Some sites feature safety measures, such as high-security encryption. This is particularly useful to protect both personal privacy and financial information. Crimes like identity theft or credit card stealing can be avoided by including such features. There are also a set of security tips any private citizen would do well in reading and following. Members of some penny auction sites are encouraged to keep their username and password safe at all times, not to divulge or share this information with anybody, let alone keep public records where they could get lost or stolen. The fact that a penny auction site is a shopping site after all which has access to personal information, credit card numbers, address and the like, makes it prone to cybercrimes.

The most common forms of cybercrimes that include penny auction members as victims include phishing and password theft. Keep alert for suspicious-looking e-mails that ask you to reset passwords or provide personal information. Most penny auction sites will not ask you to do that. Should you think the e-mail is real and wish to make contact, it is better to log onto the site from outside, rather than hit the link embedded in the e-mail. Having a customer support service wither online or on the phone is a sure proof way to cast the fears away. Avoid bidding sites that feature no customer contact or whose numbers redirect you somewhere else.

Safety Seals and Endorsements: Most prestigious sites will offer safety regulations that range from an antivirus company, like Norton or McAfee, to institutional endorsements like the Better Business Bureau. If a site fails to present any of these seals, or show shady banners that with fictional names, mistrust the webpage. There is another important detail the general public has not been trained to identify; many seals shown on a sites’ landing page may look real, however, if you click on the link, it takes you nowhere. If the seal is legitimate, it should redirect you to the paperwork or certificates issued by the institution. Such paperwork includes the site’s fantasy name as well as the company’s name. Checking will only take a minute, but might eventually prevent you from being caught up in a major scam. Citizens are entitled to report any suspicious-looking seal or fake link.

Third-Party Audits: When penny auction sites began to lose popularity and many went bankrupt, the longest-running and most prestigious ones started to look for ways to restore their reputation and rehabilitate their public image. That is when third-party audits came into the bidding auctions scene. Other companies, often consultation firms, that have nothing to do with the penny auction sites, are hired to control internal factors that have to do with the site’s legitimacy. Some of the issues they may check include aspects, such as whether the site uses automated bots to place bids (shill bidding) or whether goods are actually delivered on time.

Factory Warranty: Many sites have been questioned heavily for putting up used or faulty goods up for auction. Most legit sites, nonetheless, sick to brand-new factory-sealed and wrapped items that come with a warranty. You should ask for the warranty and make sure that your rights be respected in this matter. Otherwise, should anything go wrong with the items you have purchased, you will not be able to ask for a return, replacement or refund. If you are bidding on jewelry or expensive items, such as watches or gold coins, ask for certificates as well. They will not only validate the quality of the item, but will also protect you from being accused of having committed some kind of crime, like theft.

Less is more: When it comes to checking out penny auction sites and analyzing their legitimacy, there will come a time when you may feel tempted to fall for the best-looking one. Be warned that the most dazzling are not necessarily the safest. Many sites include pop ups and pop over banners and links, lots of freebies for new members, thus enticing people to get signed up. There is a lot of promotional advertising going on and partner sites tend to recommend other sites which end up being the same thing –many of them are, in fact-.