Buying and selling online

As we know, the internet is also a huge department store. Each and every one can act as a buyer or a seller. But what might be a great opportunity on one website can carry hidden dangers on another. The internet is full of companies with dubious intentions, sellers and buyers who want to cheat you and are after your money. Buying from an unknown person or webshop always involves a certain risk. You can minimise this risk with the following tips.


  • Choose a different password for each online service you use. This will limit the damage in the event of a data leak or password theft.
  • Only reveal details that are absolutely necessary. On online forms, only give mandatory information marked with an asterisk: *.

Before you buy

  • Before any purchase, check out the online trader in detail.
  • Use customer feedback (reviews) to build a picture of the seller. You can find this feedback by searching the name of the webshop plus "reviews". Bear in mind that reviews can also be bogus.
  • Be suspicious if an offer is obviously too cheap.
  • Check whether the seller has an imprint and whether this is complete and plausible. For example, does the seller give a plausible contact address, a correct telephone number or email address, and a commercial register number?
  • Check the information on cancellation rights, returning goods and shipping costs.
  • Check the payment options. If possible, pay on account rather than at the time of purchase/ordering.
  • Be careful when providing your credit card number.

Buying on a classified ad platform

  • Use the classified ad platform's rating system. Check the reviews from sellers. But bear in mind that reviews can also be bogus, especially if there are some very good and some very bad reviews.
  • Be suspicious if an offer is obviously too cheap.
  • For purchases involving large amounts of money, the transaction should be carried out via a trust company that you have chosen yourself.
  • Be sceptical if the merchant claims to be located in Switzerland but wants the payment to be sent abroad.
  • When transferring money, make sure that the seller and the account holder are identical.
  • Choose the most secure payment/delivery options (e.g. cash on delivery)
    • Money transfer services are often misused by fraudsters as these payments cannot be tracked.
  • Ideally, you should collect the goods in person and pay for them then.
  • Ignore any requests to provide a copy of your passport or ID card

Selling on a classified ad platform

  • Only send the goods once the agreed purchase price has been paid into your account; alternatively, agree to cash payment on collection of the goods
  • Do not accept cash payment in the form of a cheque.
  • Do not trust payment confirmations by email – they could be bogus. Check your bank account directly to see whether payment has been received in full.
  • Be careful if the buyer wants to pay more than originally agreed.
  • When selling an article, do not pay any apparent shipping costs or transfer fees.
  • Particular caution is advised when selling to buyers abroad.
  • When advertising your goods, only use pictures that you have taken yourself (copyright).
  • Ignore any requests to provide a copy of your passport or ID card

Further Information

Last modification 09.02.2021

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