Consumer centre Citizens Advice has issued a warning to consumers, urging them to take care when purchasing items from internet auction sites such as eBay.
As sellers are usually private individuals rather than companies, there is no guarantee they will provide the goods - and whilst the trust system works well more often than not, there have been instances when consumers have lost out.
Citizens Advice cites the example of a buyer from the Midlands who found a car on an auction site for £6000, but now faces an extra £3000 bill for a major fault that the seller had not disclosed.
"Too many people are abusing the trust of others when using internet auction sites. This is a terrible problem, which can leave sellers without their money and buyers without their purchase or, even worse both," said Susan Marks, social policy officer with Citizens Advice.
She added: "We would urge people to do their homework on the other Internet user before committing to buy or sell."
Most auction sites post feedback ratings of sellers based on other buyers' comments, and an escrow service can work as an intermediary, collecting payment from the seller on the buyer's behalf. Click here to find the best credit card deal for you.
© DeHavilland Information Services plc