Avoiding Scams

With any kind of online marketplace comes individuals looking to scam others, either on the buy or sell side of things. While we do everything in our power to prevent scammers on our platform, we cannot guarantee that they don’t exist. Given this reality, we’ve created this page to help you avoid the scammers and instead enjoy a fun and safe buying and selling experience.

If you're looking to buy, here are some things to note . . .

  • Pay attention to the words the seller is using to describe the bike. If the posting lacks specifics and it seems the seller is trying to hide something, be suspicious. Check the seller’s feedback. Does the seller have similar sketchy listings? If so, report this to us so we can also take a look.


  • When buying a bike, ask questions. If the answers you are getting from the seller are evasive or don’t make sense based on the posted description, you might be dealing with a seller who is trying to make a quick buck by selling you a stolen bike. Genuine sellers have no problem answering any questions you may have about the bike – questions like “When did you buy the bike?” or “Where did you buy the bike?” or “When was the last repair and what was broken?”


  • Every bike has a serial number, located on the bottom of the frame. If this serial number has been scratched off or is missing, it might be because the bike is stolen and the seller does not want you to look up the serial number on an online registry of stolen bikes, like that of bikeindex.org. Ask for pictures of the serial number to be sure it’s not made up.


  • If a bike has a new spray paint job, be suspicious. Thieves will often spray paint bikes to conceal the make and model of the bike so that it’s more difficult for the rightful owner to track it down. Ask for close-up pictures of spots on the bike where two parts of the frame meet. If the area is usually bumpy, there’s a chance it was stolen and spray painted.


  • Gather a description of the bike, both from the listing on the market and from the seller, and do some research online. Sometimes a simple Google search can reveal someone looking for their stolen bike that happens to be the one you’re about to buy.


  • Photo clarity. The photos should be clear and you should be able to easily see the brand as well as any other markings on the bike. If the picture quality is low, it’s possible that the bike is stolen and the seller is trying to throw off the scent of the victim.


  • While oftentimes just an honest mistake, misspellings of brand names in listings can be a sign that a bicycle is stolen. Use this as one signal but don’t let it turn you away from a good deal if everything else checks out.


  • Price. Is it too good to be true? If it’s way below a value you would expect it to be, you’ll want to really question the seller to understand why the price is what it is.

While this may seem like a lot of effort to purchase a bike, it’s worth it. Stolen bikes may be damaged and the police in your location can usually seize a stolen bike without reimbursing you. Keep an eye out for signs that your potential new bike may be stolen. Here at Secondhand Cycle, we do our best to ensure a fair and legitimate marketplace. By doing your own due diligence, you can help us keep thieves and scammers off the site.

Overall takeaways for avoiding scams

Overall takeaways

If something is too good to be true, it probably is. Put yourself in the shoes of the buyer or seller. If there is no benefit to you accepting their offer, then there is probably an ulterior motive at play.

Trust your intuition. If something feels off, it probably is. Always take a step back and read any buyer or seller messages for a second or third time before moving forward. Ask a friend or family member for a second opinion. If the buyer or seller is using demanding language, don’t allow yourself to be pushed into making a quick decision. If in doubt, contact us.

Use PayPal where possible. PayPal affords buyers and sellers with some protection that other payment methods do not have. If a transaction goes awry one way or another, you can raise a dispute directly with PayPal for a resolution.

Google can be your friend if you’re skeptical about a potential transaction. Search the seller’s username and perform a reverse image search on any photos posted to see if brings up any warning flags. 

We hope you never get scammed. Using common sense and keeping an eye out for warning signs can go a long way to helping you avoid any unsavory sellers. 


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