Thursday, July 23, 2015

How to Avoid Scams When Selling (or Buying) Things Online

Recently, I've been trying to sell a couple things on Craigslist and KSL.

One thing that I've learned when shopping online (except on Amazon and other legitimate businesses) is that 9/10 people (statistic made up on the spot, and only from my own personal experience) that contact you about your items are scammers.

I found the same experience when we were looking for an apartment online. A large number is the houses for rent are from scammers.

I wanted to share somethings that I have learned about scammers through my experience. Hopefully this will help some of you when you are trying to sell your own items online.

1) Only accept cash

This alone will get rid of most of the scammers. If they have to actually come to meet you in person, they are going to stop contacting you. This will also keep you from giving your full name, address, and zip code to people. You don't want to be giving that information out to just anyone.

2) Don't mail the item, only accept home pick-up and make sure someone else is there when they come to get the item. 

There may be some legitimate people who want you to mail something to them, but I have yet to meet one. Their stories can sound sincere, but again, they just want your information.

Be cautious. There have been some murders associated with items on Craigslist and the like. Always have someone with you, and it may not hurt to be armed as well.

3) If a deal sounds too good to be true, it usually is. 

This one works for both sellers and buyers. If you're selling an item for $350, and someone tells you, (and I quote from a recent text I received)
Alright am willing to offer u $360 for item and additional $100 including shipping fee what the size
then be suspicious. People don't like to give more money than something is worth. If they are offering more money, don't accept the offer. It is a scam. I haven't found out of what sort yet, because I tell them I only accept cash and home delivery. They never contact me again.

The other way this works is if people are offering to rent a house well below the market average. Even if the house if for rent, and you drive past it, don't assume that the people online are the owners. I contacted one person about a home for rent, and they sent me an e-mail telling me that they, along with the house key, were in Africa. They needed me to fill out an application sheet and then, if I was approved, they would send the key after I paid a deposit.


So, playing along, I said, "Do you have anyone in the area that can confirm that you are really in Africa? I don't want to get scammed."

To which they replied, "Congratulations! You've been approved. Please send the money..." blah, blah, blah. Yeah, that's gonna happen.

4) If someone texts you with really bad English, be cautious. 

I didn't write this to be racist. Some very honest people don't speak English very well, and that's okay. However, the majority of the scammers who have contacted me have not typed very coherent sentences. It's a good warning sign. Pay attention to it.

5) Try to talk to the people before you meet in person.

If you can, ask to talk to the people over the phone instead of just via text. You can get a better feel from someone from the sound of their voice than the way they text.

6) Trust your gut.

If you feel bad about meeting the person, or making the deal, don't do it. Just tell them that something better came up (like your life). Instinct (or divine interference, whatever you want to believe) is usually right. Don't take unnecessary risks. 

I think that pretty much covers it.

I don't want to make anyone afraid to ever sell anything online. We have had some good experiences with it. However, I do want to make people aware that some people do nothing but contact ads all day and try to get money and information from them.

If you're wise with how you deal with people who contact you, you will begin to be able to recognize scammers right away. In some ways, if you have a Facebook classified group, where it's more private and more likely filled with real people, try to sell more things on there. Ebay and Amazon are also pretty good alternatives, though you may have to ship things from there.

Your money and privacy will thank you.

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