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The Federal Trade Commission is warning consumers that paying for an online purchase with a wire transfer is risky. When making purchases from Internet auctions, the FTC says credit cards and online payment services are safer. The FTC’s new alert, “Going, Going, Gone: Using Wire Transfers for Internet Auction Purchases Can Be Risky” provides information about making purchases safely.

While wire transfers can be useful for sending funds to someone a consumer knows and trusts, they are not a good method of transferring money to strangers. When a consumer wires money to buy an item from a Internet auction site, either through a money transmitter or directly to someone’s bank account, and something goes wrong, the consumer is likely to lose their payment and have no recourse. While credit cards and online payment services are the safest, other payment options include debit cards, personal checks, cashier’s checks, money orders, or escrow services.

Consumers who suspect an online auction transaction is fraudulent should report it to the FTC and to the auction company. The FTC’s new alert is available online at More information about avoiding online auction fraud is available from OnGuard Online, a multimedia, interactive consumer education campaign launched by the FTC and a partnership of other federal agencies and the technology industry. The OnGuard Online Web site has tips, articles, videos, and interactive activities. There is no copyright on the quizzes or other information on; the information can be downloaded by companies and other organizations to use in their own computer security programs.

The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

Contact Information

Media Contact:
FTC Office of Public Affairs