More and more, online marketplaces like Craigslist, OfferUp and Facebook Marketplace have become selling staples for people shopping for high value items. Unfortunately, as the popularity of these online platforms have grown, they have also become a breading ground for crime and fraudsters. We’ve compiled a list of the top tips to keep you and your wallets safe when participating in an online transaction in real life.
- Find a safe place to conduct your transaction It’s always been a good idea to conduct your online sales in a public place. Other than being taken advantage of financially, meeting for online transactions have also been linked to cases of rape, assault and even murder. As of 2022, the murder of one hundred and thirty two people have been tied to Craigslist sales alone. In response to this staggering number, a program called SafeTrade was launched in 2015 by the Advanced Interactive Media Group, LLC, a Florida-based consulting-and-publishing company that publishes Classified Intelligence Report. SafeTrade is an entirely free program that is offered by local police departments that allows you to conduct your sales in a local police station, sheriff’s office, or similar law enforcement facility. Learn more about the SafeTrade program and how to find a participating station HERE.
- Check IDs When selling or buying something you found online, as soon as you meet (in a safe place) always ask for a current form of ID like a driver’s license or passport. After the buyer or seller provides their identification, immediately take a picture with your phone, and then text that picture to somebody that you trust.
- Use a Counterfeit Detector One of the top ways that criminals take advantage of online transactions is the use of counterfeit cash. Whether it’s slipping one or more phony bills into a stack of real money or if the entire payment is fraudulent, it is incredibly easy to get ripped off. Dri Mark detection solutions like the Dual Test or UV Pro offer affordable, UV verification that is perfect for on-the-go transactions.
- Verify Non-Cash Transactions Never accept personal checks as payment. If the non-cash payment is a cashier’s check from a reputable bank or a money order, always make sure to call the bank using the number you find online, not a number provided by the buyer in order to verify the check. Like personal checks, cashier’s checks are easily forged and should not be trusted.
- Safety in Numbers Sometimes, if you’re buying or selling something large, like a piece of furniture it isn’t always possible to go to a police station or public place to complete the transaction. In these scenarios it is imperative that you not allow yourself to be outnumbered. Ask two or three people that you trust to be at your house while the sale is taking place and vice versa, make sure not to go alone if you are the buyer. Make sure that the other party is aware that you are not alone and if you’re completing sale at your home make sure that no one is ever left unoccupied.