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How Gumtree Empowers Customers to Do Business with Safety as a Top Priority

At Gumtree, our mission is to become the most trusted marketplace in South Africa. We’re doing this by prioritising the safety, success, and hassle-free experiences of our customers. 

Personal safety has long been a barrier and concern for South Africans looking to trade in second-hand goods. In a recent News24 article, we announced what steps we are taking to improve overall trust and safety on our platform. 

In addition to a series of campaigns and added on-platform messaging, placing specific emphasis on personal safety guidelines, Gumtree is also planning to launch a payments and shipping service in 2024. 

This initiative will eliminate the need for in-person meet-ups, ensuring a secure environment for our customers, and aligns with our mission to transform Gumtree into a key transactional player, facilitating secure transactions between buyers and sellers in an e-commerce-like experience on a classifieds platform. 

Gumtree Head of Product, Zandre Jansen Van Vuuren, says it’s time for Gumtree to innovate and evolve to give customers a marketplace that adds real value to their lives: “Just as Gumtree disrupted newspaper classifieds when it launched in 2004, it has come time to push the online classifieds market, to again transform how South Africans trade.” 

“[Gumtree has] a critical opportunity to develop in the direction our customers want us to,” says Jansen Van Vuuren. “As we implement these features, they will allow customers to better leverage the marketplace to create value for themselves and the broader South African economy.” 

“We’re focused on creating an e-commerce experience for marketplaces, where you can click buy now, pay and select delivery to your home or a pick-up point, just as you would on any good online retailer,” Jansen Van Vuuren explains. “The money is held securely in an escrow account and the seller is paid after delivery has been confirmed and the dispute window has passed.” 

As we take on this exciting challenge of building this new Gumtree experience, it is important to note that trust and safety continues to be at the forefront of what we do. 

Below are just some of the measures we have implemented to protect our customers when buying and selling on Gumtree. 

Trust and Safety Verification Features 

  • Fraud Detection Software: Gumtree integrates with a global enterprise solution using industry-leading machine learning technology to detect and reduce high-risk behaviour, bolstering our efforts against fraud. This software has digital identity intelligence and digital authentication that is trusted by leading brands and gives us access to a global network of fraud intelligence.   

  • Identity Verification: Buyers and private sellers can undergo free identity verification by matching their South African ID numbers with the government database. A 'verified' badge is awarded upon successful verification. This service utilizes secure facial recognition software and due to the growing demand for this service, we will soon extend it to passport verification for foreign nationals.  

  • Mobile Number Verification: Gumtree confirms the validity and accessibility of customers' mobile numbers through real-time SMS verification. This process adds an extra layer of security, ensuring a verified connection between the customer and their provided mobile number.  

  • Vetting of Professional Sellers: Listings with a ‘Professional Seller’ badge signify sellers with registered business accounts. Our customer service team vets these accounts during registration, ensuring that the business is registered and not on any of our blacklisted records.  

Additional Safety Measures 

Gumtree goes beyond automation to provide additional safety measures:  

  • Dedicated Moderation Team: While other platforms focus solely on automation, Gumtree has a dedicated team working in the background with our fraud detection software to create a safer platform for all our customers.  

  • Mandatory Registration: All buyers and sellers must create a Gumtree account to engage in the platform's chat, enhancing accountability.  

  • On-Platform Warnings and Alerts: Gumtree strategically places messaging and alerts on pages where buyers and sellers frequently interact, ensuring essential safety information is readily available.  

  • Report Feature: Customers can report suspicious behaviour through the "Report" function that is available on all listing pages and platform chat to reach out to Gumtree's Helpdesk or Support team directly.  

  • Safety Guideline Campaigns: Gumtree conducts frequent safety guideline campaigns through newsletters and social media posts, educating customers on safe practices.  

Remedial Systems 

Gumtree has a proactive approach to prevent incidents before they occur however, we also have the following remedial systems in place:  

  • Incident Reporting: We have a dedicated Help center where customers can report incidents or suspicious activities. This serves as a centralized hub to provide details of the incident, enabling Gumtree's support team to investigate promptly and take appropriate actions.  

  • Listing Takedown: If a fraudulent listing gets detected or reported Gumtree has a system in place to take that listing down. This measure ensures that potential risks are mitigated while investigations are carried out.  

  • Account Closure: In cases where suspicious activities or violations of community guidelines are identified, we block the customer account. This measure ensures that the identified party can no longer access their account.  

  • Collaboration with Law Enforcement: Gumtree has protocols in place to collaborate with local law enforcement to address more severe incidents, such as fraud, attacks, or criminal activities. This collaboration ensures that legal actions can be taken against perpetrators. 

Gumtree will continue to evolve, quickly and proactively, to remain at the forefront of the digital marketplace space and continue to disrupt conventions as they have done since the beginning. 

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, do not hesitate to get in touch with us via our help desk