Payment methods vary dramatically in the level of safety, and some methods are not as safe as they might appear. One should use great care in evaluating each situation, and evaluate the risk vs. cost of each method for every transaction. Beware of any Seller asking you to pay via wire transfer, check, money order or cashier's check. Audiogon recommends keeping all communication on-site.
Escrow.com provides a secure, licensed third-party means of transaction between Buyer and Seller, collecting and verifying funds from the Buyer and disbursing them to the Seller only after both parties are satisfied. This process eliminates chargebacks and protects both parties from potential fraud. Audiogon recommends this as the safest means of transaction for both Buyers and Sellers.
Stripe Connect is another option by which Sellers can accept payments. This is the best solution for Sellers who would like to accept payment via credit card, but still keep the transaction through the Audiogon checkout service. However, Sellers are still liable for any fraudulent charges and feedback made against them with this method. Stripe Radar provides additional vetting of potential Buyers, but ultimate responsibility for accepting legitimate payment rests on the Seller.
While PayPal may be the most convenient payment method for many users, PayPal users are NOT afforded the same protections against chargebacks and fraud offered by Escrow.com, and any issues from said transaction will have to be mediated through PayPal directly without our intervention.
Less Secure Options
Audiogon allows users in our Verified Dealer Program to accept additional payment methods at their discretion. If available, completing a transaction with a Verified Dealer using the following methods depends on your preference. However, these methods can be used by those with malicious intent to defraud users. Be wary of taking a transaction off-site with another user and using one of the following payment methods, as you may find yourself with little protection should fraud occur.
This is neither recommended nor condoned by Audiogon, due to the rampant fraud that is associated with this payment method, and the fact that there is no recourse to recover your payment in the event the transaction is fraudulent.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to transact via cash unless you actually meet your trading partner. UPS and other shippers have limits on how much cash they will accept on a COD ($1000 for UPS), so very few transactions qualify for cash payment. What's more, completing a transaction with cash leaves the Buyer with little recourse should they find themselves having been sold a false bill of goods.
Accepting a personal check presents its own set of problems. You can call the check writer's bank, and verify that there are enough funds in that particular account (have the check in hand when calling). This determines the availability of funds at that moment, but NOT necessarily by the time the check clears. After depositing a personal check, your bank may still withdraw the deposit for several days after. You should learn the exact policy of your bank regarding the clearing of out-of-state personal checks.
Certified or Cashier's Checks
In theory, a certified check is guaranteed by the bank that issued it. The funds are withdrawn from the Buyer's account before issuing the check. However, some certified checks can be cancelled by the account holder. Most of the above mentioned steps can be applied to both certified and personal checks.
There are many companies that issue money orders, including the United States Postal Service (USPS). Money orders are generally safe vehicles of payment, but even these can be faked with modern home computers. Each issuer's money order will be different, so distinguishing a genuine money order from a fake one may prove difficult. Money orders from the USPS and Western Union are the closest to a standard that one can come by.
Some Sellers accept credit card payment, in which case the Buyer is very well protected. Fraudulent charges are certainly possible, but most banks will refund all but $50 if you can prove a charge was fraudulent. However, these protections apply only if the Seller is directly authorized to accept payment (as opposed to credit card payment via a third party). Credit card information should be exchanged ONLY via phone or fax. Do NOT email credit card numbers.
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