It's the holiday shopping season and online marketplaces offer a convenient way to purchase items, but there are steps to ensure that a good deal isn’t a scam.
Below are some safety tips to consider when buying and selling from online marketplaces.
- Meet in a public place: Always arrange to meet the seller/buyer in a safe, public location, such as a coffee shop, shopping center or police station parking lot. Several of our Police District Stations offer safe exchange zones for online purchases. Use these zones to ensure the safety of both buyers and sellers. Avoid secluded areas or inviting strangers to your home.
- Bring a friend: Whenever possible, bring a friend or family member with you when meeting a seller/buyer. Having someone else present can deter potential scams or unsafe situations.
- Whenever possible, complete the transaction during daylight hours.
- Inspect the item thoroughly: Before finalizing the purchase, carefully inspect the item you’re interested in. Check to ensure that it is the item you intended to purchase.
- Trust your instincts: If the seller/buyer seems suspicious, the item appears too good to be true, or you feel uncomfortable during the transaction, trust your instincts and consider walking away.
- Verify the seller’s identity: Before meeting, ask the seller/buyer for their name and contact information. Cross-reference this information with their social media profile or other online platforms to ensure they are who they claim to be.
- Do not share personal information: Avoid sharing personal details like your home address, phone number or social security number. Stick to exchanging essential information related to the transaction only.
- Avoid carrying large amounts of cash: For more expensive items, consider using secure payment methods like PayPal or Venmo, which offer buyer protection.
- Avoid wire transfers or money orders: Be cautious of sellers who insist on wire transfers or money orders as payment methods. These methods are often associated with scams and provide little to no recourse if something goes wrong.
- Report suspicious activity: If you encounter a suspicious seller or notice any fraudulent activity on Facebook Marketplace or any platform, report it to the platform’s support or customer service immediately. This helps protect other users from potential scams.
If you have any further questions or need more assistance, reach out to your district station’s Crime Prevention Unit.