Anyone who entered 'Marktplaats' and 'fraud' on Google used to see a list of reports. Used to... because since the largest marketplace in the Netherlands introduced the 'escrow' service in November 2017, it has become much easier to act safely.

Together with Marktplaats, we developed escrow as a service of Online Payment Platform (OPP). The buyer's money is held by us until the package is actually delivered. For consumers it is a simple service, the buyer can click on Marktplaats to see if the shipment has arrived and one day later the money will be in the seller's account.

We are quite proud of it. In his letter on internet fraud, the Minister of Justice and Security, Ferd Grapperhaus named OPP and the escrow service, as an excellent example of how to combat internet fraud. The service also meets a large need. More than 1.3 million users have now been verified and more than 2 million transactions have already taken place.

OPP manages the complete payment and verifies the bank and personal details of interested Marketplace users and links them to their Marketplace account.

If transactions include higher amounts, additional authorizations are carried out to verify the identity of the seller by means of a passport or iDIN check. These checks by OPP enable Marktplaats to state that the identity of a user has been verified. Reliable sellers are valuable on Marktplaats. If somebody does commit fraud or fails to honour his or her agreements, the user will be blocked. This means that the user will not be able to repeat his or her transactions just like that. We also look at fraud lists of, for example, the police.

Hundreds of thousands of transactions have already been concluded by using escrow. It is also pleasant to see that the service is not only used for expensive products, but also, for example, for a shipment of socks. If the parcel has not arrived anyway, the buyer can create a dispute and claim his money back. The average amount of a dispute is 65 euros. Our processes, procedures and controls also prevent fraud on a regular basis. It's enjoyable if you can tell a user that we still have the money in our possession and will return it. Last week, a cake was delivered to our support team from a happy user. Unfortunately, not all fraud can be prevented yet, but the system is improving and getting safer every day.

OPP not only specializes in facilitating these financial processes, we also try to resolve the disputes. Our support team tries to respond within one working day, which gives the customer the feeling that they can go somewhere with their question. If the client feels heard, the entire buying process feels more pleasant.

I have 5 more tips to make trading on trading platforms even safer. Sometimes they seem to be open doors, but it still goed wrong too often.

1 If something appears to be too cheap to be true... this often is the case. So if Apple Airpods are offered for 40 euros, you're almost sure that something is not right. Or that it is a (almost) indistinguishable copy from China.

2 Always keep the contact between buyer and seller within the platform. The platform is a controlled environment. So avoid using Messenger, SMS or Whatsapp; This might feel more trustworthy, but in practice this proves that fraudsters know exactly what they have to do in order to mislead you.

3 Use the payment methods offered on the platform. By doing this, security is at its maximum and you have reliable information about the payment. Do not respond to other payment requests and do not transfer money yourself. The seller will not be verified and therefore can more easily strike again.

4 Make clear agreements about the method of shipment. For example: who is responsible if the parcel doesn't arrive or breaks during shipment? In this case, use the escrow service on Marktplaats.

5 Stay alert for odd requests. A little suspicion can save a lot of trouble. Don't forget: that you have to earn trust!