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For big-ticket items like computers, cars, or jewelry, buyers should consider using an escrow service or purchasing from a bonded or insured seller to protect their funds. The primary purpose of online escrow services is to protect buyers and sellers from fraud. Escrow services accept and hold payment from a buyer often a wire transfer, check, money order or credit card until he receives and approves the merchandise. Then, the escrow service forwards the payment to the seller. The buyer pays the fee for an online escrow service generally a percentage of the cost of the item.

Before using an escrow service, both the buyer and the seller should verify that it is a legitimate, reputable company.

Some sellers may state that they are bonded or otherwise insured against fraud. If a buyer intends to rely on a seller's bonded status or the seller's insurance to protect against fraud, he should investigate the legitimacy of the bonding or insurance company and then make sure that the seller really is a member of or certified by that company. If a problem arises with a bonded seller, the buyer usually has to engage in a dispute resolution process with the seller before being able to submit a claim to the bonding or insurance company.

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