How to Prevent Scams When Selling Locally on Buy and Sell Apps
In today’s day and age, scams are growing in prevalence with scammers becoming smarter and increasingly deceptive. Arranging a local sale for your Craigslist listing may seem simple, but you can easily be ripped off by an experienced scammer. Learn how to prevent scams when selling locally on buy and sell apps by familiarizing yourself with the methods in which scammers deceive sellers, how to spot red flags in potential buyers, and ways to protect yourself when arranging a meet up.
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Methods Scammers Use
- They want you to ship the item before making a payment. You will often see these types of scams on Craigslist. Scammers will send an email requesting you to ship the item and they will pay you via money transfer after they receive the package. A golden rule is to never ship before receiving payment. Even if the buyer offers to pay with PayPal, one of the more reliable payment methods, I would still be skeptical if they ask you to ship the item first.
- They want to meet on their terms. Avoid buyers who propose a meet up after dark and somewhere you know has little to no foot traffic. These meet ups can be dangerous and can lead to you being robbed.
- They use counterfeit bills to make the purchase.
How to Spot Red Flags in Potential Buyers
- When evaluating a potential buyer, look at their reviews. Scammers tend to have no reviews. Don’t expect to see any bad reviews either. When slammed with a bad review, scammers tend to wipe their slate clean by deleting their account, creating a new one, and restarting the entire process within minutes.
- Another thing to look for is how recent their account is. Scammer’s accounts tend to have been made within the previous month.
- Their accounts have nothing listed for sale. Scammers create accounts solely to scope out pricey items and trusting sellers. To avoid getting caught, they won’t list the stolen goods on the same app.
- They don’t have a profile picture. Scammers will want to remain anonymous and will never use a profile picture. Be wary of accounts with avatars as well.
- Different accounts (with similar red flags) that message you about the same item with comparable dialogue. This most likely means you have previously turned down the scammer and they have made a new account to get you to do the deal. Even if the names are from two different people (or ethnicity), they may still be the same scammer, especially if their offer and messages resemble one another.
- The scammer checks the item hurriedly, offers you the money, and tries to take off. Oftentimes, this is a sign they have given you counterfeit bills or a lower amount than what was agreed upon.
Ways to Protect Yourself From Scammers
- This is obvious, but never include personal information in your listings. You don’t even have to particularly use your real name, a nickname works just as well. Craigslist uses 2-way email relay to conceal your email address to prevent spam and scams. While your email and phone number are usually safe to provide as contact info, never give out your home address to potential buyers.
- Don’t accept wire transfers via MoneyGram or Western Union. These are most likely scams.
- Meet up at a well-lit and busy public place. Starbucks is usually a safe place to arrange a meet up. Stores are a good place to meet because if you end up completing a sale with a scammer, you have some peace knowing that the security cameras have them on tape. The most ideal place to do a meet up is the parking lot of a police station. NEVER allow the buyer to come to your house.
- Meet during the daytime. Daytime meet ups are much safer and you can easily examine the money or jot down the buyer’s description and license plate if needed.
- Bring a friend with you to complete the sale. Having another person with you lowers your chances of getting hurt or robbed. It also makes the scammer more apprehensive to rip you off.
- Arrive before the meet up time and keep an eye out for your buyer. Make a note of their car’s description and license plate if possible.
- Jot down the buyer’s description and license plate.
- Don’t hand over your item until you have received payment and inspected the money.
- Carefully inspect the money to ensure they aren’t counterfeit bills. A trustworthy buyer should not rush you after they’ve given you the money. Hold the bills up to the light and look for the watermark on the right hand side. Fake bills will feel “different” and tend to be slightly thicker than real ones. The lines along the border will not look as sharp as the ones on authentic bills. I highly recommend carrying a counterfeit detection pen on you. Drimark Dual Detector Pen and UV light is under $10 and can test both the authenticity of the paper and the presence of a security strip.
- Be cautious of deals that seem too good to be true; oftentimes they are. Perhaps the buyer insists they will pay you double if you expedite shipping or if you’re willing to meet at a strange location. A buyer that seems rushed or too quick to make a purchase is usually a scammer.
Selling your unwanted things is a good way to make some extra cash but keep in mind scams are more common than you think. Do you have any tips to prevent scammers when completing local sales? Comment below!
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