Too many of us have been there before – we find the perfect item at the perfect price and think we have walked away with a great deal, only to find out later on that the deal was too good to be true. Whether you are buying or selling, scammers pose a real threat. However, there are a few simple steps we can all take to stop scammers and stay safe.
1. Never commit to buying an item before you see it in person
Before you commit to purchasing an item, make sure you carefully look it over in person. This will ensure you do not end up with an item that is broken or defective, or that does not accurately reflect the description. Research the market value of the item in advance so you can be prepared for possible negotiations.
2. Always verify the identity of the seller/buyer
Ensure you are dealing with a legitimate person by verifying the identity of the buyer or seller. You can do a simple Google search based on their name, contact info, business, or any other information provided. If the person tried to scam someone before using the same information, it may come up in an online search. Be vigilant and trust your instincts! If something does not feel right, it probably isn’t.
3. Limit the amount of personal information disclosed
Never include any personal information in your product listing. When negotiating a purchase, never provide more information than necessary – your first name and phone number are usually more than enough. You can also use Google Voice to create a free, disposable phone number for additional protection.
4. Always meet in a public place
When buying or selling, always meet in a public place such as a coffee shop or the parking lot of a supermarket. If it’s necessary to invite the buyer into your home to see larger items such as furniture, move the item to the garage or front lawn if possible and ensure you are not home alone. Likewise, if you are a buyer, always bring someone with you if it’s necessary to go into the seller’s home.
5. Deal only with cash
Cash is the only secure method of payment. Fake checks and money orders are all too common, and cashing them could result in the bank holding you accountable! Wire transfers and gift cards are also a red flag. Make payments safe by insisting on cash.
One simple solution to skip these steps and stay safe when buying or selling is to use the online marketplace 5miles. Along with feedback ratings, 5miles users verify their identity by phone and via Facebook, so buyers and sellers can shop confidently, knowing they are dealing with a real person. 5miles also has an internal messaging system, so contact information is kept confidential.
And, unlike most marketplaces, 5miles has an “Awesome Experience Team,” a customer service team that works hard around the clock to review every item posted on 5miles, making sure they meet high standards so you can buy without worry.