Don’t Pay Too Much: Avoiding Secondhand Seller Scams

Don’t Pay Too Much: Avoiding Secondhand Seller Scams


If you’re the kind of person who loves to buy brand-new electronics or collectibles, you’ve likely seen some hard-to-find items getting relisted on secondhand seller websites like eBay. Often, these listings will be marked up as much as double the item’s retail price in a process known as “scalping.” 

What can you do when you’re confronted with a tough decision, like waiting for a restock or paying jacked-up prices for a product you’re excited about? Here are our tips for dealing with underhanded online sellers.

Is Scalping Illegal?

Purchasing items like electronics, collectibles, or concert tickets with the express intent to resell them online with a massive markup is in a legally muddy area. As a general rule, it’s not illegal. While there are some regulations in place, particularly with concert tickets, enforcing those rules is usually pretty tough.

So, while buying large numbers of PlayStation 5s or new graphics cards using automated scripts and selling them for double the price on eBay is an extremely underhanded thing to do, it’s not against the law. As such, seeing a scalped listing doesn’t merit reporting it to the authorities. However, there are other ways you can avoid these scams.

Never Pay More

The most surefire way to prevent scalpers from doing their thing is for everyone to agree to let them keep the items they purchased with the intent of flipping. If a scalper buys tons of PS5s and new GPUs and then can’t find a buyer for any of them, they get to eat the costs and wind up regretting ever buying up all the stock. 

If you can, wait out the scalpers and buy the item when it comes back in stock. Paying more for something that you can get elsewhere encourages scammers to keep buying the stock before honest people can get their hands on it.

Stay Vigilant

If you want to beat the resellers to the party, you need to stay vigilant to know when the items you want will go on sale. Try to set up alerts and reminders to help yourself remember when to get into the online queue for things like new console sales or concert tickets dropping online.

The faster you are, the more likely you are to beat scalpers to the punch. At the end of the day, the best way to avoid ever paying them is to get the items you want without ever interacting with resellers.