Do you buy from or sell to strangers through the internet? Here are some tips to safely help you navigate the process.
- Check out the seller and buyer’s Facebook profile: Are there any recent posts? Any mutual friends?
- Always communicate only through the app.
- Meet at a public site, preferably a police station.
- Ship if possible.
- Is it a large item? Move to your driveway if possible, so not in your house and never be alone when meeting someone at your home or theirs.
- Cash only. If they claim not to have cash, tell them where the nearest ATM is.
Buying and selling on the internet can be convenient and efficient, but it is important to prioritize safety to avoid scams, fraud, and other risks. Here are some guidelines to help you safely buy and sell online:
Tips for Buyers:
- Research: Before making a purchase, research the product, the seller, and the platform you are using. Read reviews, compare prices, and verify the legitimacy of the website or seller.
- Secure Websites: Ensure you are using secure and reputable websites. Look for “https://” in the URL and a padlock symbol in the address bar, indicating a secure connection.
- Check Seller Ratings: If you are buying from an individual seller on a marketplace, check their ratings and reviews from previous buyers. Be cautious if the seller has a low rating or a lack of reviews.
- Pay: Use secure payment methods such as credit cards, PayPal, or other reputable online payment systems. Avoid using wire transfers, money orders, or direct bank transfers as they offer little to no recourse in case of fraud.
- Avoid Public Wi-Fi: When making online purchases, avoid using public Wi-Fi networks as they can be less secure and more susceptible to hacking.
- Review Privacy Settings: Regularly review your privacy settings on online platforms to control the amount of personal information you are sharing.
- Beware of Deals Too Good to Be True: Be cautious of deals or offers that seem too good to be true, as they might be scams.
- Use Strong Passwords: Use strong, unique passwords for your online accounts, and consider using a password manager to keep track of them.
- Watch Out For Email Phishing: Be wary of unsolicited emails or messages asking for personal or financial information. Verify the legitimacy of the sender before clicking on any links or providing information.
Tips for Sellers:
- Provide Accurate Information: When listing items for sale, provide accurate and detailed information about the product, including its condition, size, specifications, and any defects.
- Use Clear Photos: Include clear, high-quality photos of the item from different angles to give potential buyers a clear understanding of what they are purchasing.
- Write Honest Descriptions: Be transparent about the item’s condition and any imperfections. Honesty builds trust with buyers.
- Communicate: Respond promptly and professionally to inquiries from potential buyers. Clear communication can help establish a positive relationship.
- Select Payment Methods: Choose secure payment methods that offer seller protection. Be cautious of buyers who insist on using unconventional payment methods.
- Ship and Track: Use reliable shipping methods that provide tracking information. Clearly communicate shipping costs and estimated delivery times.
- Verify Payment: Before shipping an item, ensure that you have received the payment and that it has been verified. Be cautious of payment confirmation emails that may be fake.
- Meet in Safe Locations: If you are selling locally and meeting in person, choose a safe and public location to conduct the transaction.
- Trust Your Instincts: If a transaction seems suspicious or too good to be true, trust your instincts and proceed with caution.
Remember that while these tips can help mitigate risks, no method is foolproof. Always exercise caution and stay vigilant when buying or selling online. If something does not feel right, it is best to walk away from the transaction.
I have sold several items via Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. Some items sell quickly, and others linger. I have not figured out the rationale behind that. Timing is everything!