Attorney General Headshot

Attorney General Jason R. Ravnsborg

Attorney General Seal

Attorney General Long Warns South Dakota Consumers About Online Auction Scams


(Pierre) – Attorney General Larry Long is warning South Dakota consumers to use caution when taking part in internet auctions. “We have seen an increase in online auction complaints,” said Long. “Always utilize the security features that auction sites have in place and never engage in business without the middleman or online payment service.”    

Online auctions can be risky business. The complaints generally deal with late shipments, no shipments, product substitution or even phony online payment services. Whether you are the buyer or the seller, understanding how internet auctions work can help you avoid these problems.  One additional warning for internet auction buyers: Be leary of those sellers who try to lure you off the auction site with promises of a great deal. Many times fraudulent sellers will try to contact buyers by emailing them directly from an address that they harvested from a legitimate auction site. There is no protection outside of legitimate auction sites.  

Before bidding:

·        Know the auction site. Never assume that the rules for one auction site apply to another.
·        Find out what protections the auction site offers buyers. 
·        Know exactly what you are bidding on. Read the seller’s description of the item or service and review any pictures closely. Look for words like “refurbished,” or “off brand” to get a better idea of the actual condition.
·        Find out everything you can about the seller. Review feedback ratings.
·        Check to see if there are any warranties.
·        Read the fine print and understand the seller’s return policy.

When bidding:

•         Determine what your top price will be and do not go above that price.  
•         Retain all transaction information. Keep copies of all the seller’s information, item description and the time, date and price of item that you had bid on. In addition, keep copies of any email correspondences that might have been exchanged during bidding process.


•         Determine what form of payment you would like to use and what form the seller accepts. 
•         Never give out your social security number, credit card numbers or bank account information until you have adequately checked out the seller and the online payment service they are using. 
•         Before you decide to use any online payment service, know the terms and conditions of their agreement.

If you need additional information about internet auctions or would like to file a complaint regarding an internet shopping experience, contact the South Dakota Division of Consumer Protection at or 1-800-300-1986.