(10) If you are a U.S. user, buying or selling on eBay, you should only use escrow.com. It is the only service approved for use on the eBay U.S. platform. For international users, these four additional services are approved for use on eBay:
- EscrowAustralia (Australia)
- Escrow Europe (Italy and Spain)
- iloxx Safe Trade (Germany)
- Triple Deal (France and Germany)
(9) Do not fall for e-mails that appear to be coming from eBay that encourage you to use some time of escrow service. These are phishing scams.
(8) Do your homework-- don't just look at the supposed escrow company's web site. If the company is legit, you'll find some third-party references if you just type their name into any of the major search engines. Also, check out the message boards, they will have some feedback (good or bad) from people who have used the service that can help guide you on their experiences.
(7) Verify that any third party seals are authentic. Escrow services deal with sensitive data. This means that they should at least be using an SSL certificate. Make sure that the certificate (most often from VeriSign) is authentic. Also, double-check that any other third party seals that are included are authentic. For example, if it they have an 'eBay Certified Solution' icon, check out the directory on eBay's web site. It's easy to copy the logo, but they won't be listed in the directory (in fact, you won't find any escrow companies listed in the eBay Certified Solutions directory, so if they have that logo on their site, they aren't legit).
(6) Check out the license(s). Escrow companies are typically licensed and governed by certain state, national or international legislation. They will often provide you with this information on their site, and in some cases, you can use the license information to look them up in the regulatory body's database.
(5) Make sure the service description is 'authentic'. Copy two or three sentences that describe the service and run them for a search on Google. If someone is setting up a fake escrow service, they probably have not taken the time to develop unique and original content for the web site, and have ripped it off the web site of a larger company. If the description of the service is identical, or near-identical, to a site like escrow.com, it's probably fraudulent. Escrow companies invest enough in legal counsel to know that they should not engage in copyright infringement.
(4) Beware of offers that are too good to be true. If a buyer tells you he or she is willing to pay an extra $1,400 to use an escrow service for an item you are selling for $900, it's probably a fraud. A buyer who's willing to pay that much of a premium will either go to a local vendor (so they can see them item) or is careful not to waste money, and therefore would not do so in paying you that much of a premium.
(3) Rely on the track record. The reason that escrow companies do not exist in the market in the same volume as vendors is that (a) they are expensive to set-up; (b) they are expensive to market; and (c) it is a competitive industry where individuals rely on the brand name. Don't settle for a 'cheaper' service that seems to be able to offer more competitive rates like your local mom-and-pop store. Escrow services are not built that way.
(2) Sellers should always request a signature for delivery to ensure that buyers do not claim to have never received the product.
(1) Call them up. Escrow services will almost always provide a phone number because they know that the seller and the buyer are participating in a transaction with a sizable amount of money to be exchanged. They are better off answering your questions up front to ensure that everything materializes the way it should.