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Beat the credit crunch with Swoopo, eBay & Amazon

How to bag a bargain or make a quick buck online

Buy and sell safely on eBay

1. Always check the seller's reputation and customer comments. Don't be afraid to ask questions - click ‘Email seller' to ask a question and elect to ‘Watch a bid' to see whether initial interest dies down as people get cold feet. Sometimes you just have to trust your instincts.

eBay safety: Step 1

2. Counterfeit software is one of the most prevalent examples of fake goods being traded. If it's not in its original packaging, stay well away. Similarly, buying tickets can be a minefield: eBay expressly forbids it and you should also be wary of reseller sites. If a seller won't let you collect the tickets in person, back away.

eBay safety: Step 2

3. If you get a message purporting to be from eBay or PayPal, stating that the card on file for your account was declined and they need another card to take their cut, it's a scam with a dodgy link to a phishing site. eBay takes its cut only after you successfully complete a sale. If in doubt, contact PayPal or eBay.

eBay safety: Step 3

4. If you're buying something substantial such as a car, it may sound reasonable for the seller to demand a deposit. Decline and offer to pick up the car in person - that way, you can also examine it and check it's the same one. Deposits are a neat way for someone to con you and never be heard from again.

eBay safety: Step 4

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