How to Stay Safe When Selling and Buying Online
Thanks to the Internet, it’s easier than ever to buy and sell items locally. You can find all sorts of great deals on used furniture, electronics and more, as well as make some money on the side. But, the world of Craigslist, OfferUp and LetGo can be a scary place if you’re not careful. Here are some tips to stay safe, while making a little money or getting a good deal online.
Meet in a public place and bring a buddy.
Starbucks or Target parking lots are great places to meet for a transaction because they are usually busy and there are plenty of security cameras. Furthermore, if the item is of significant value, arrange to meet at a bank or even a police station parking lot for an extra level of security. Also, make sure that you always bring a buddy or at least tell a friend or family member that you are meeting someone for a transaction. If the item is too large to bring to a public place and you must meet at your home, move it to your garage or driveway so that the buyer doesn’t have to come inside.
Do your research.
Before meeting in person, do some research on social media. If the person doesn’t have social media, you could even ask them for proof of identity, such as their driver’s license. It’s also a good idea to talk to the person on the phone before meeting. You can usually get a pretty good idea about someone just from a short phone conversation.
Try selling on Facebook.
Unlike Craigslist, where people can be completely anonymous, Facebook is more public. On Facebook, it is easier to verify someone’s identity and research who you are doing business with. Facebook also has a Marketplace page where you can search and browse items for sale in your area and you can also post your own ads.
Be cautious of accepting checks.
The most reliable way of accepting a payment when selling something online is cash. If the item is of significant value, a cashier’s check should also suffice. To avoid confusion down the road, make it clear in your ad and in your conversations with a potential buyer that you will only accept cash. Mobile payments apps such as Venmo or PayPal are also a safer payment option.
Trust your gut.
Above all else, always trust your instincts and stay alert. At any point in the buying or selling process, if something seems fishy, remove yourself from the situation and back out of the transaction immediately. Your safety is worth far more than any item you are buying or selling online.