Gumtree defends safety policies after Citizen Advice slams it for levels of fraud

By Jennifer Faull | Deputy Editor

July 3, 2014 | 3 min read

Gumtree has defended its safety policies after Citizen's Advice issued a warning to users that one in every six of the consumer complaints associated with Gumtree are the result of a scam or fraud.

In the six months to March 2014, CAB dealt with 649 cases related to Gumtree which prompted CEO Gillian Guy to say it was time for online marketplaces “to up their game and do more to protect their customers from dodgy dealings”.

Responding to CAB's call for greater protection for users, a Gumtree spokesman said: “We do everything in our power to keep scammers off our site and encourage anyone that has fallen for a scam, to report it to us and the police.

"We take fraud very seriously, so our dedicated safety team investigates claims and takes action such as blocking the offender from the site and working with the police in their investigations.

“Gumtree is an open platform which provides a free and easy way to buy and sell, meaning we do not track user information. We are always looking at new ways to improve customer safety such as improving methods of communication between us and our customers.

"We also work with expert third parties such as the Met Police and Get Safe Online on the latest frauds and how to prevent them. We encourage all our users to adhere to our safety tips on the site and discourage people from transferring any money in advance of seeing an item for sale.”

However, he also stressed that the majority of its 8.6 million monthly unique users have successful transactions on the site, which clocks up 56.9 million visits per month.

The eBay owned portal was singled out for attention by CAB as it does not vet or confirm the identity of all users, giving criminals the ability to register repeatedly.

When asked by The Drum if it would change the model in light of the report, the spokesman said: "We are an open marketplace so we don’t vet or register our users but once someone has been reported as a scammer, they are blocked from Gumtree and where relevant, we send the details over to the police for investigation.

"The open classified will remain our business model for the foreseeable future."

It also reminded users that they are discouraged from transferring money without seeing the item or property and that they can’t get tickets to Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth games, football games, or Wimbledon.

Earlier this year, Gumtree launched a campaign which aimed to show its users success stories,

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