How many times have you heard the horror stories about using classified ads? Stolen identities, missing cars, robberies, and misguided up-front payments are just a few of the things that can go wrong. Fortunately, these are not the norm, and most of us experience good people and honest dealings. Unfortunately it’s easy to fall prey to scams of all sorts when dealing with classifieds because most of us are trusting and believe in the goodness of others. In the case of the latter, there are some simple things to keep you safe while buying or selling in the online classifieds world.
One of the most important ways to protect yourself is to use as little personal contact information as possible in your ad. A good way to do this is to utilize the email the classifieds sites provide called ‘anonymized’ email so you remain ‘anonymous’ until you are comfortable sharing your private information. If you do need to add contact information, be careful when people contact you not to give out more private details until you are ready. If people need to see the item and it happens to be at your house, have friends or family present so you aren’t alone or show them the item in a public place. If that isn’t possible, be on your cell when they arrive and keep someone on the other end. This is not only a safety precaution, but it also makes you feel more confident when a buyer tries to negotiate beyond your comfort level.
A common scam that runs through classified ads is the money scam. The scenario is usually along the lines of someone who just needs ‘a little extra help’, but says they really wants to buy what you are selling. They ask you to go through a third-party for exchanging the money. You receive emails that the transaction has been completed, so you send out the item you are selling. Next thing you know, you no longer have the item but you don’t have the money either. If any part of a transaction seems strange, trust your instincts. Heed the warnings that most classified sites offer: Buy and Sell locally – it can often keep things on the up and up.
So, follow a couple simple precautions and listen to that nudge in the back of your mind that tells you something isn’t quite right. Keep your personal contact information private and don’t go along with any money transactions that sound even slightly out of the norm (generally that means no money without having what you are buying in your hand). If something makes you feel uncomfortable, it’s OK to say you aren’t interested. Now, have fun, stay safe, and find great local deals, there are a lot of them out there. » Read more: How to Stay Safe While Using Online Classified Ads