Nothing is perfect because perfection doesn’t exist. In reality, everything has its pros and cons. Similarly, new technologies surrounding the internet are also a double-edged sword.
While you can do business across borders with the ease of clicking a button, the risks of doing so are just as much as the convenience.
Getting to utilize opportunities around the world is a blessing, but criminals have the option to do so as well.
In fact, being untraceable and in another country with fake contact information, it’s much easier to get away with scams than ever before.
That’s why companies like Escrow.com are an increasingly viable option. But what is this website, and can you trust them not to stab you in the back?
I will get into all of the details, but before that, let me tell you outright:
Yes, Escrow.com is a legitimate and trustworthy company that anyone can use to make secure transactions with strangers, provided you keep a few things in mind and take the necessary precautions.
Se let me get right into what this company can do for you and, more importantly, what you need to take protect yourself against.
What is Escrow.com?
Escrow is a legal practice that has been around for ages to help protect the interests of both the buyer and the seller in any major transaction.
It is when a third party agrees to hold on to the money until both parties are satisfied with their end of the deal.
You know how in movies, when a bad guy is blackmailing a good guy, and then someone says to the hero, “Don’t do it! He’s going to kill us anyway!” or something like that?
That’s because the villain is untrustworthy, and nobody can guarantee that they will stay true to their word after they’ve gotten what they want.
The hero would give the money (or whatever) to a third person, maybe a rival gang who isn’t aligned with the hero or the villain, and that third person wouldn’t give the money to the villain until he lets go of the girl (or whatever) in exchange for a small fee.
The rival gang that makes sure the deal goes down smoothly would be an escrow agent in this example. Now let me tell you about Escrow.com.
Escrow.com is a legitimate, privately-held, and registered online escrow payment service. It’s based in San Francisco, California, USA, and was founded by Fidelity National Finance in 1999.
In 2015, it was bought by Freelancer.com.
I’m sure you might have heard about Freelancer, and I hope that this will help you realize that this is indeed a trustworthy organization.
Is Escrow.com Safe To Use?
As you can see, this website is closely associated with popular platforms like Freelancer and is even the recommended mode of payment for sites like eBay. But asking if it is safe to use is like asking if eBay is safe to use.
That is, the website itself can be trusted to do its job without fail, but the people you are making transactions with are who you should be concerned about.
What do I mean by this? My point is simple:
Escrow.com will always prioritize the safety of the transaction above all else, especially over speed. And they will always protect both the buyer and the seller in an unbiased way without taking any sides.
As it turns out, while this makes Escrow.com a preferred payment platform for sizeable online transactions, it can also lead to some complications. Let me go over these by first explaining how the website actually works.
How Does Escrow.com Work?
To understand how you should protect yourself when using this website, we need to be on the same page about how it works in the first place.
It’s simple enough to use if you have the basic skills to use a computer. Indeed, if you are not tech-savvy enough to use a smartphone properly, you should ask someone else for help with this process.
With that said, let me briefly go over the general process of using Escrow.com for any transaction.
1. The Deal Is Made
It all starts with a deal worth making. You found a car that you like or found someone who’s willing to take one off your hands.
Escrow.com can be used in any and all kinds of transactions, from e-commerce and physical products to house rights, websites, jewelry, and much more.
They also accept a few major currencies like AUD, CAD, Pounds, Dollars, and Euros.
2. A Contract Is Written Up
Usually, a deal can happen with a verbal agreement. You can reach out to someone through mail about their eBay listing, give them your shipping info, and send them money through a bank.
But to have the extra security of sending the money once you receive and check the product, a third party needs to come into the picture. And for that third party to function properly, a contract has to be written up.
This is the most important part of using Escrow.com properly, as you will see in a minute.
3. Sign Up On Escrow.com
Now, both parties need to sign up on Escrow.com and submit their legal identification and other information to verify who they are. After that, both the buyer and seller can initiate the transaction.
One of them will put in the terms of the transaction, like what is being exchanged and for how much, before uploading the all-important contract that’s virtually signed and approved by both parties.
Once the contract is approved and accepted, the exchange can now take place. The buyer needs to add a payment method to send the money, and the seller needs to add one to receive it.
4. Buyer Pays Escrow.com
Just like you’d imagine, the buyer then deposits the money to Escrow.com. By the way, Escrow.com will assign both parties a point of reference from their company to coordinate and broker the deal for them.
5. Seller Fulfills The Exchange
Once Escrow.com has the money, the seller will send the merchandise in question. This way, the seller knows that the buyer does, in fact, have the money they want from their side.
6. Buyer Accepts The Merch
The buyer receives what he/she paid for, checks its condition, and everything they really need to satisfy their anxiety and make sure everything is exactly as advertised. After this, the person can approve the merch.
7. Escrow.com Pays The Seller
Once the buyer has approved the merch, it means that they are satisfied with what they paid for. This marks the transaction as complete for Escrow.com, and the seller then receives the money from Escrow.com’s agents.
Pretty straightforward, right? Well, let’s see what can go wrong with this now.
What Can Go Wrong When Using Escrow.com?
Now the website might be legitimate and working under goodwill, but that doesn’t mean that you can leave your good sense at the door.
Like I said before, nothing is perfect, and that is especially true for massive platforms like this that deal with large sums of money. The fact is, the platform can still be used for nefarious purposes if someone wants to do so.
Regardless of outright scammers, you can expect to face the following issues while using Escrow.com.
1. A Time-Consuming Process With Regular Delays
Escrow.com will always prioritize the safety of any transaction over how long it takes. This comes with a system of checks along each step of the process.
You can expect then to take a few business days to verify the IDs of both parties, the amount being received, the legitimacy of the exchange, the efficacy of the contract, and so on.
They will also never move forward until they have actually checked, verified, and vetted the information either since they will be answerable for any mistakes as the third party.
That’s why Escrow.com employees are trained to be thorough rather than agreeable, and it takes as long as it takes to get cleared and move on. This way, security can actually be a bit of a drawback as a sale can take up to a month sometimes.
2. Limited Customer Service
While the website does have a staff that facilitates transactions, the service is meant to be largely automated. It is also a very popular platform, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they have dozens of transactions on any given day.
Combine the traffic with their smallish team of around seventy people (according to LinkedIn), and a few things are bound to fall through the cracks.
Also, remember that it’s a US-based company from San Francisco. If somebody calls them anytime besides office hours on working days, they don’t have an obligation to answer.
These issues come together to create a generally unresponsive kind of vibe, which is what a majority of negative reviews about Escrow.com tend to focus on.
3. Manipulative And Incomplete Contracts
Now, this one hardly has anything to do with Escrow.com itself, but it is the biggest thing you need to be wary of when using this platform. The fact is, there is a good reason that only a small percentage of people are lawyers.
It takes a lot of mental effort to read contracts and legal statements; imagine having to write them! That’s why most people just get a template online when they need to write up a legal document.
Please take your time to draft your own contract properly or consult an actual lawyer who knows contract law.
During my research, I found a few cases when the buyer has deposited an amount upwards of three thousand dollars for a website and yet never received any access from the seller.
When reaching out to Escrow.com, they simply say that no such provision has been made in the contract; that is, there is no specified time limit after which the buyer can choose to withdraw the amount in any case.
This means that Escrow.com will simply look at and adhere to exactly what the contract says, word-for-word. The result? The buyer’s money is stuck for months until the next step can be taken.
4. Accepting Merch Before Checking Its Condition
In my eyes, while the last step is the biggest precaution you can take, this is actually the biggest mistake you want to avoid, as it is an easy one to make.
This is also why I strongly advise you only to handle money online or use such platforms if you are very tech-savvy or a native netizen that grew up around screens.
Whether it is in the last case or any other kind of scam, the biggest chance a scammer or fake seller has is that the buyer accepts the merch without checking it properly.
As soon as you hit accept on your browser, Escrow.com is clear to let go of the funds. If made through wire or other modes that are hard to track, you cannot do anything after the fact.
So, just to be clear, only hit the “accept the merch” button once you have checked, received, and are happy with what you’ve paid for.
5. Outright Fraud And Scams By Copycats
Those are the major issues that you need to look out for when you are using this website properly, but there is another risk that the folks at Escrow.com warn you about themselves.
There are a lot of people out there with fake copycats of Escrow.com. These scammers are well aware of how skeptical people are with online transactions and actually use Escrow.com to put people at ease and let their guard down.
Once they buy into it, they send you a link to this email, which takes them to a fake landing page that looks a lot like the real website. The email tends to have a virus that records what they type and steals sensitive information.
6. Escrow.com Doesn’t Handle Legal Services
When it comes to cars and houses, a lot of legalities are involved when changing ownership. Remember that Escrow.com is only for exchanging money safely, and those aspects of the trade still need to be handled by both parties involved.
I heard of a case when a buyer bought a car using this website, and Escrow.com even paid the lease for the car using the buyer’s funds, but the process of changing ownership still had to be done manually by both parties themselves.
How To Use Escrow.com Safely
As you can see, just like any other major platform, scammers and con artists will always come up to take advantage. But if you take a few precautions, you can still make great use of this service without losing your cash.
Let me briefly go over them real quick.
1. Be Wary Of Unidentifiable Sellers
Making sure that your own online presence is easily identified and verifiable will go a long way toward speeding up the whole process. You should also give Escrow.com the photo ID that’s most convenient for them.
The same goes for the seller. You need to be wary of people who cannot be identified easily. The biggest leverage scammers have is that others don’t know who they really are.
If you feel someone is overly insistent on their privacy, take a step back and suggest dropping the deal over your concern.
2. Read And Write The Contract Yourself
This is the most important step when using Escrow.com. The people from the company will only pay heed to the agreed upon and registered contract.
I seriously suggest writing one yourself with your own non-negotiables and then having a good lawyer take a look at it. Clearly note down the procedure for every single step of the process with contingencies for every possibility.
Draw a flow chart if you have to; the general process is laid out at the top section already. The best thing about language is that it’s dynamic, and you can say anything you want, including contingencies for “unforeseeable” circumstances.
3. Never Accept The Merch Before Checking
Be very careful with the “Accept the merch” option and only select it once you have received and properly checked everything about the item being bought.
4. Be Careful With Links & Emails
If you receive any mail that you haven’t initiated yourself, be very careful with it. Don’t click on any of the links until hovering your cursor over them and checking the actual URL.
Also, take a close look at Escrow.com’s actual website and watch out for copycats. If the links of websites in your mail don’t have any contact information or are unreachable, consider that a red flag.
So, in conclusion, I’d like to remind you that dealing with unknown people is always a risk and that security should never be taken for granted.
Escrow.com is a company made up of real people who are working to make things a bit more safe.
By having a third party be in charge of the funds, online business can be a bit safer and more stress-free for everyone involved, especially if both parties can trust each other.
Here are some quick pros and cons of using Escrow.com:
- Safe, easy to use, and trustworthy.
- Actual agents to mediate the transactions.
- Very affordable charges and fees.
- Time-consuming and meticulous.
- Will blindly adhere to the contract.
- Customer support is limited.
Writer from the heart – whether it is affiliate marketing or fiction – and a proud member of Shivansh’s team! Big fan of combat sports, reading non-fiction, and watching the best of everything from anime and movies to TV and video games.