If you want to talk with audiophiles, buy or sell equipment, or have a friendly chat with a fellow enthusiast, most audio sites and forums require a paid membership today.
That’s why US Audio Mart stands out right now. It’s a classified ads website used for Hi-Fi, used audio needs, and more. The postings are always free for hobbyists, making it easier to connect with some like-minded folks.
This structure is also why some people see US Audio Mart as being a bit of a joke. Since anyone can post or say anything about their listing (within the scope of the Terms of Service), some critics say it is easier to get scammed here than in other spots on the Internet.
Is US Audio Mart a Joke?
US Audio Mart is a free website that all audio enthusiasts can use. That means anyone can post a free listing and have someone reply to it. The website doesn’t vet ads before they get published, which means deals that turn south receive zero support. It is up to each user to exercise caution when conducting transitions.
When you look up the customer service options for US Audio Mart, you’ll find an intriguing line listed in the terms and conditions.
“We actively develop new methods and techniques to detect and prevent unsafe listings and unsafe users on our site. The community helps identify some unsafe listings or users, and if we get reports of scams, we ban accounts or remove ads as possible.”
That language feels like a security blanket, but it shows that US Audio Mart takes a reactive role in preventing scams instead of a proactive one. You’ll find it is a buyer beware community where some governance exists, but it is up to you to create protections for each transaction.
How to Avoid Scams at US Audio Mart
Although you can’t predict where you’ll encounter a potential scam, it is possible to take a proactive approach to your transactions on this platform.
Here are the different guidelines to follow to prevent problems from occurring if you see something you’d like to have – or want to sell something you’ve got.
1. Don’t send wire transfers to strangers.
When purchasing something through US Audio Mart, you should not use any wiring services to complete the transaction. That includes ACH and Direct Deposit. Those payment methods run the highest risk of having a scam happening.
Use your best judgment when working with a long-established member on the platform. Anything using wires, checks, money orders, EMT, or ACH has no recourse.
You could use escrow services or a digital platform like PayPal for some extra protection as an alternative.
If you agree to pay Cash on Delivery, the agent won’t let you inspect the package before payment is required. It might be tempting to save a few bucks by skipping the third-party services, but you shouldn’t take any chances with a transaction.
2. Deal with locals whenever possible.
The goal of US Audio Mart is to create a welcoming community for everyone who loves audio equipment. When you complete a local transaction, you create opportunities to branch out your network while supporting neighborhood services.
Local transactions also help you avoid most scams, although you’ll need to test the gear before completing a transaction whenever possible. Inspect and audition carefully. It might be better to work out a time in advance where you can meet in a public place.
3. Send funds under the heading of Goods and Services.
When using a digital payment service, always send the funds under the “Goods and Services” heading. Although the friends and family option doesn’t charge a fee, it also means you’re at risk of losing your funds with zero recourse.
That’s the only payment method covered by the Purchase Protection Program at PayPal.
If you don’t have PayPal, consider using a provider that accepts a credit card payment. If the transaction turns out to be fraudulent, you can file to get your money back.
4. Ask for a recent photo.
The photographs in a listing at US Audio Mart could be faked or altered. If you’re interested in purchasing an item from the website, it helps to request a recent image of the product.
You can tell if the image is recent by having a piece of paper in the photo with the CAM username and the current date. Another option is to take a picture with the current newspaper in the frame.
5. Phone calls can be helpful.
Although a phone call doesn’t guarantee a person’s authenticity on US Audio Mart, it can help you get a gut feeling about the transaction. Are there strange behaviors, requests, or something shady that seems to put a shadow on your excitement?
A phone call is not enough to keep you 100% safe. You should always ask to be the one who makes the call because it’s another tool to gauge the honesty and sincerity of the other person.
6. Email addresses and phone numbers can be fraudulent.
Scammers can give out email addresses and phone numbers all day long. This information is not a guarantee that you’re protected against fraud. If you think that a simple call to complain will solve everything, those people will laugh all the way to the bank with your money.
Even if you know the complete contact information of the scammer, it could be fake. Numerous instances at US Audio Mart have had law enforcement interactions that led to zero police help.
7. Fake checks constitute a significant problem.
When doing business online, a good rule of thumb is to budget about 6% of your total income as bad debt. That means you’ll get $0.94 on every dollar of profit, which isn’t terrible.
The biggest scam from a payment perspective is to issue a fake check or money order. Even if the bank lets you cash it, the money gets taken out of your account once it’s determined to be false information. You’re the one who gets charged a penalty.
That’s why most banks and credit unions won’t cash a check or money order from someone who isn’t a member. It is also the best reason to accept PayPal payments for Goods and Services instead of those alternative options.
Here’s a pro tip to review. Debit and credit cards allow people to chargeback on suspicious transactions. PayPal provides a similar service when products don’t meet a person’s expectations. You’ll want to keep copies of all correspondence for these transactions for at least 90 days if an investigation is opened.
8. Don’t fall for the vacation excuse.
Scammers like to say they are on vacation as a response when you request to meet. Another common excuse is that they’re “temporarily” out of the country. Why else would they need the cash from you right now?
Nothing on US Audio Mart is so important that it cannot wait until someone returns from their vacation. If someone keeps stringing you along, it’s time to cut the line and look for something else on the website.
9. Read the feedback.
Every user on US Audio Mart has feedback if they’ve had past dealings on the platform. This system can be cheated, which means you’ll want to read the content with some common sense. Everyone must start from somewhere, so a user with zero feedback isn’t an automatic scammer.
It just means that you’ll need to be cautious when conducting a transaction with that individual. You might consider saving the US Audio Mart URL and the page content of the advertisement in case you run into problems and need evidence to show what the expectations were for the transaction.
10. Do not assume that police can help.
Internet fraud is a tricky problem. The assumption is that police can help in these situations because a crime occurred, but that isn’t typically the case. It is often impossible to locate and prosecute the individuals who participate in this behavior.
Since US Audio Mart offers a buyer beware platform, you will not get your money back. Even if the police find the individual, your only recourse might be to file a lawsuit. That’s when they could file for bankruptcy, creating even more problems for you to manage.
The best way to get the audio equipment you want is to work with an authorized dealer. When you purchase items second-hand, there is always more risk with the transaction. Some people might say that’s why US Audio Mart, but it is a fact that applies to all sites and stores that operate in similar ways.
What Can I Do If I’ve Been Scammed?
Non-specialty scammers tend to know nothing about the product they’re requesting information about from you. If it feels like you’re pulling teeth to get info, it’s just time to move on to another listing. Some scammers are pretty knowledgeable, making it harder to pick out the legitimate ads from the non-legitimate ones.
The first thing that US Audio Mart recommends if you think you’ve been scammed is to post about your experience in the fraud warnings forum.
US Audio Mart also offers an advertisement reporting feature where you can report the problem to the platform.
The website also wants you to contact them directly to ban the scammer’s account and shut down their ads. Those steps are the only options available to you after an incident occurs.
You can also contact several groups about the problem, including the Internet Fraud Complaint Center. The FTC also offers an online complaint form you can use.
I highly recommend reading the listing carefully before proceeding with a transaction. I’ve found that most scammers tend to use poor grammar and punctuation. You’ll see spacing and capitalization problems outside of what you’d consider to be a reasonable error rate.
Cashier’s checks are a favorite way to pay for scammers. Some will tell you to pay a larger amount and then ask for a refund of the difference. Don’t accept this form of payment in any way. If the transaction is greater than what you requested, you should abandon the sale and report the situation.
I’ve also noticed that scammers tend to use shipping companies that fall outside of the usual group. If they don’t want you to work with USPS, UPS, FedEx, DHL, or a similar agency of that stature, it might be better to look somewhere else.
Is US Audio Mart a joke? I’ve always found the platform to be useful when I need Hi-Fi gear. I’m also treating each interaction as I would when dealing with something on Craigslist and other online classified sites. By anticipating the worst-case scenario first, it’s much easier to get what you need at a great price.