Spotting a scam: Tips for shopping on Gumtree

Online marketplace Gumtree is a popular site for those looking to buy and sell goods.



With thousands of people visiting the site each day, it is also a popular target for scammers looking to prey on unsuspecting buyers and sellers.

Gumtree's head of marketing, Amanda Behre has offered some tips to ensure you don't become a victim to fraudsters.

Scam awareness tips for Gumtree users

The safety and security of our community is our main priority at Gumtree. While more than 99 per cent of trading experiences are safe on Gumtree, it is important to remain vigilant and understand the warning signs of a scam so you can protect yourself when trading online.

Before buying items online, we always recommend users follow these three simple steps to keep themselves and their money safe:

1.Be aware. If it looks too good to be true, it usually is. Always maintain a vigilant, critical eye over your online interactions with buyers and sellers. Some common scams to look out for are:

  • Brand name spoofing/phishing: An email or SMS claiming to be Gumtree, requesting personal details with a sense of urgency.
  • Payment scams: Cheque overpayment, payment for importing, fake escrow sites or scheduled payment receipts.
  • Job scams: Fruit picking and farming jobs that target backpackers, requests to post ads on behalf of strangers, and other 'too good to be true' job ads. These could be those with unrealistic flexible hours, attractive pay or require minimal education/training. Please find specific tips for avoiding job scams here, and the latest trending job scams here.
  • Too good to be true deals: Rentals, pets, luxury items, and vehicles that are listed under market value.
  • Upfront fee scams: Often targets vulnerable users who post ads expressing financial hardship caused by the COVID crisis. These scams usually offer loans for large sums of money and at a low interest rate, overlooking employment and credit history and merely requiring upfront processing fees.

You can find a list of common scams to watch out for on the Gumtree site here.

2. Know who you're trading with. When face-to-face trading isn't an option, it is essential to do a background check on the person you're trading with online to ensure they are legitimate. This can be done in a number of ways:

  • Always check a user's profile before trading with them, as a first port of call. Look out for community feedback and the 'highly rated' badge which indicates they have been rated positively and consistently by other people on Gumtree. For more information about our ratings system, visit our FAQ page here.
  • If there isn't any sufficient user feedback, it's always helpful to do your own research. If they're a business, do a Google search for business name, ABN or images of the company. If they're an individual, conduct a reverse image search on the item being listed to rule out scams and keep an eye out for anything unusual including: an unusual name, location, contact process, a request to move the conversation to private email, SMS, or WhatsApp before actually conversing about the potential transaction, Fake URLs, Oddly capitalised words or letters or adding special characters between letters within a word.

3. Pay Securely. To pay securely and protect yourself from the risk of financial scams, we always advise our community trading to pay in person with cash, whilst adhering to COVID restrictions and safety tips, or through the PayPal app in person when buying or selling an item on any online marketplace.

  • If you're buying off Gumtree, never provide your credit card details or personal documents to anyone on the site.
  • If you're selling an item on Gumtree, requests for unusual payment methods are almost always a red flag for scammers. Never accept payments in the form of prepaid debit cards, gift cards, iTunes cards, virtual currency (eg. Bitcoin), or scheduled payment receipts.
  • Don't agree to transfer money or goods for someone else: money laundering is a criminal offence and you could be liable.

We rely on our users' feedback to keep the platform friendly, safe and relevant for everyone. We operate a report and take down process and we strongly encourage our community to report any listings believed to be unlawful or in breach of our terms of use or policies.

For further information on tips for trading, visit our Help Page or contact Gumtree Customer

Service via the 24/7 live chat.

For additional advice on avoiding scams, visit

Amanda Behre is the head of marketing at Gumtree

Have you been scammed?

Have you been a victim of a recent scam? Australian Community Media is interested in publishing first-hand accounts from those who have been taken advantage of by unscrupulous operators. If you're interested in sharing your story as a warning to others, contact Anna Wolf at