EBay is one of the most widely known peer-to-peer selling websites. You can get massive deals on various merchandise, but how do you avoid paying into a scam? Sometimes you don't know the item you're paying for is fake until you receive it. Yes, eBay has administrators, tools and their money-back guarantee to combat these situations. But dealing with all of that can be quite a hassle. It's probably much easier to just get the item you're paying for in the first place, right? Here are a few ways to avoid paying for a rip-off on eBay and other selling websites.


1. Check the seller's rating

EBay has its own seller rating system. The better reviews the seller gets from people they buy from and sell to, the better their rating will be. You might feel confident in buying an item from a seller with a 100% rating — but take it with a grain of salt. There are even scams around inflating a seller's rating on the website. Take a look at the seller's history and read some of the reviews about them.

You should also consider the age of their account. If they just recently made their eBay account to sell a popular item, it could mean they're trying to misrepresent the product. But if they're been around awhile, it's likely they're a more reliable seller. Of course, there are untrustworthy sellers with old accounts and good sellers with new accounts. This is just one thing to keep in mind.

2. Examine the product picture

Probably the fastest way to spot something fishy is by the picture, especially if they're reselling a brand new product. If the seller has uploaded an official picture released by a big company, be wary. That picture does nothing to prove that the seller actually has the product they're selling. You want to look for a picture of the box or item in their home or in another location than what was advertised by official retail outlets. It might seem counterintuitive, but a poorer quality picture is probably a good sign the seller actually has the product on hand. (Can you spot the possibly fishy photo above? Hint: it's the middle one on the bottom row.)

If there are a lot of listings for the same thing, compare the product pictures between posts. Sometimes sellers will even steal a picture from someone else who genuinely has the item. Other times, a single seller will use the same exact picture on multiple auctions. Maybe they were too lazy to take multiple pictures and upload them, but this could also mean that they're trying to scam you.

3. Don't be afraid to talk to the seller

Any genuine seller will usually be happy and willing to answer questions about the item and their selling policies. It might take some time for them to reply, but they generally won't hold back about anything. If a seller is particularly cagey with you or reluctant to answer questions, that's probably a bad sign. Be wary if they also avoid answering your question and focus on the selling points of an item. Don't take their word on a "new" and "unopened" item without the proper proof.

Even after you do purchase the item or win the auction, keep talking to the seller. Ask about a ship date and tracking information. Once you receive the item, even if everything is all good, go ahead and send them another message thanking them. It'll help your own score on eBay and will foster goodwill if you decide to buy from them again.

4. Always use PayPal to fund purchases

Never, never, never agree to pay over a wire transfer. If a seller asks for that, it's a sure sign of a scam. Once the money is transferred via wire, it's practically impossible to get it back. For safety and simplicity, just use PayPal. PayPal protects your card information and insures your payments. If you can, use a credit card in conjunction with PayPal. Credit card payments offer more protections than debit cards do.

Also, especially if you're purchasing an item with a high price tag, make sure the purchase is covered by the eBay money back guarantee. This guarantee will cover the cost of your purchase if you don't end up getting what was advertised — even if the seller refuses to give the money back.



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Over the past month, both Haiti and Afghanistan have been pummeled by tragic disasters that left devastation in their wake.

In Haiti, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake erupted, leading over to 2,189 deaths and counting. A few hours later, in Afghanistan, Kabul fell to the Taliban just after U.S. troops had pulled out after 20 years of war.

In many ways, these disasters are both chillingly connected to US interference. The United States invaded Haiti in 1915, ostensibly promising to restore order after a presidential assassination but really intending to preserve the route to the Panama Canal and to defend US creditors, among other reasons.

But the US forces soon realized that they were not able to control the country alone, and so formed an army of Haitian enlistees, powered by US air power and intended to quell Haitian insurrection against US controls. Then, in 1934, the US pulled out on its own, disappointed with how slow progress was going. Haiti's institutions were never really able to rebuild themselves, leaving them immensely vulnerable to natural disasters.

Something similar happened in Afghanistan, where the US sent troops and supported an insurgent Afghan army – only to pull out, abandoning the country they left in ruins, with many Afghans supporting the Taliban.

In both cases, defense contractors benefited by far the most from the conflict, making billions in profits while civilians faced fallout and devastation. While the conflicts and circumstances are extremely different and while the US is obviously not solely to blame for either crisis, it's hard not to see the US-based roots of these disasters.

Today, in Haiti and Afghanistan, civilians are facing unimaginable tragedy.

Here are charities offering support in Afghanistan:

1. The International Rescue Committee is looking to raise $10 million to deliver aid directly to Afghanistan

2. CARE is matching donations for an Afghanistan relief fund. They are providing food, shelter, and water to families in need; a donation of $89.50 covers 1 family's emergency needs for a month.

3. Women for Women International is matching donations up to 500,000 for Afghan women, who will be facing unimaginable horrors under Taliban control.


4. AfghanAid offers support for people living in remote regions of Afghanistan.

5. VitalVoices supports female leaders and changemakers and survivors of gender-based violence around the world.

Here are charities offering support in Haiti:

1. Partners in Health has been working with Haiti for a long time, and they work with the Department of Health rather than around them, which is extremely important in a charity.

2. Health Equity International helps run Saint Boniface Hospital, a hospital in Haiti close to the earthquake's epicenter.

3. SOIL is an organization based Haiti, "a local organization with a track record of supporting after natural disasters." They are distributing hygiene kits and provisions on the ground to hospitals and to victims of the earthquake.

4. Hope for Haiti has been working in emergency response in Haiti for three decades, and their team is comprised of people who live and work in Haiti. They focus on supporting children and people in need across Haiti.

via Tiffany & Co.

When the new Tiffany's campaign was unveiled, reactions were mixed.

Tiffany's, the iconic jewelry brand which does not (despite what some might be misled to believe) in fact serve breakfast, featured Jay Z, Beyoncé, and a rare Basquiat painting in their recent campaign.

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Road trips can be a lot of fun — but they can also drain your wallet quickly if you aren't careful.

From high gas costs and park admission fares to lodging and the price of eating out every night, the expenses can add up quickly. But at the same time, it's very possible to do road trips cheaply and efficiently. Without the headache of worrying about how much money you're leaking, you can enjoy the open road a whole lot more. Here's how to save money on a road trip.

1. Prepare Your Budget, Route, and Packing List in Advance

If you want to save money on a road trip, be sure you're ready to go. Try to count up all your expenses before you hit the road and create a budget. It's also a good idea to plan your route in advance so you don't end up taking unnecessary, gas-guzzling detours. And finally, be sure to pack in advance so you don't find yourself having to buy tons of things you forgot along the way.

2. Book Cheap Accommodations — Or Try Camping

All those motel rooms can add up surprisingly quick, but camping is often cheap or free, and it's a great way to get intimate with the place you're visiting. You can check the Bureau of Land Management's website for free campsites. Freecampsite.com also provides great information on If you don't have a tent or don't want to camp every night, try booking cheap Airbnbs or booking hotels in advance, making sure to compare prices.

Camping camping road tripConde Nast Traveler

If you're planning on sleeping in your car, a few tips: WalMart allows all-night parking, as do many 24-hour gyms. (Buying a membership to Planet Fitness or something like it also gives you a great place to stop, shower, and recharge while on the road).

3. Bring Food From Home

Don't go on a road trip expecting to subsist on fast food alone. You'll wind up feeling like shit, and it'll drain your pocketbook stunningly quickly. Instead, be sure to bring food from home. Consider buying a gas stove and a coffee pot for easy on-the-go meals, and make sure you bring substantial snacks to satiate midday or late night cravings so you can avoid getting those late night Mickey D's expeditions.

Try bringing your own cooler, filling it with easy stuff for breakfast and lunch — some bread and peanut butter and jelly will go a long way. Bring your own utensils, plates, and napkins, and avoid buying bottled water by packing some big water jugs and a reusable water bottle. Alternatively, try staying at hotels or Airbnbs with kitchens so you can cook there.

4. Avoid Tolls

Apps like Google Maps and Waze point out toll locations, so be sure to avoid those to save those pennies. (If it takes you too far off route, you might have to bite the bullet and drive across that expensive bridge).

You can also save on parking fees by using sites like Parkopedia.

Road Trip Road TripThe Orange Backpack


5. Save on Gas

Gas can get pricy incredibly fast, so be sure that you're stopping at cheap gas stations. Free apps like GasBuddy help you find the most affordable gas prices in the area. Also, try going the speed limit on the highways — anything faster will burn through your tank. Be sure that you don't wait till you arrive at touristy locations or big cities to fill up.

6. Get a National Park Pass

All those parks can get really expensive really fast. If you're planning on visiting three or more parks, it's a great idea to get an America the Beautiful National Parks Pass. For $80 you can get into every National Park for one year.