Selling used items on Facebook (via the Marketplace or just through Mommy Buy/Sell pages), via Craigslist, NextDoor or any number of other sale sites might be a good way to turn items you no longer need into some extra cash, but it’s important to know the risks. In this blog post, I will outline some key steps how to sell something online safely.
Limit What You Share: Many security experts recommend that you don’t offer your full name or contact information, including your address.
Meet in Public: Consider meeting at a police station or a fast food restaurant. If it’s a high-priced transaction, opt to meet at a bank. And bring a friend, spouse or neighbor to the meeting if possible. If that’s not possible, at least tell someone where you plan to go and when. Whatever you do, don’t post your address on a public post for all the world to see.
Don’t Share Your Email Address: If you’re using Craigslist to sell the item, use the relay option so that people don’t see your real email address. You might consider setting up an email address that you only use for this purpose. Visit our recent blog post for more on why thieves want your email address.
Dig a Little Deeper: If you’re selling (or buying) on a buy/sell group on Facebook, it’s worth clicking on the person’s name and scrolling through their profile to make sure they look legit. If it’s a mommy buy/sell group, make sure the person looks to be a parent with an active account, not just a fake profile. More than anything, trust your gut.
Careful What You Disclose: Hubby working late? Or maybe you live alone? Be careful what info you even inadvertently share in regards to who is at home with you and when. Remember when you’re instant messaging or emailing with these folks, they aren’t your friends so be careful about what information you share, even just casually. While a message like: “Oh wait, Wednesday isn’t a good night after all — I forgot my husband has night classes until 10 p.m. How about Thursday instead?” might seem innocent enough, remember you don’t know the person you’re corresponding with and criminals are constantly trying to pinpoint vulnerabilities.
Real Yard Sales Can Be Risky, Too: Real yard sales, as opposed to virtual ones, aren’t necessarily safer. After moving into our current home, our neighbors informed us the house had been burglarized some years prior. The former owners held lots of yard sales where the home could have been cased. The previous owners suspected the criminals had perhaps asked to use the bathroom (or another ruse) at the yard sale and had seen high-end electronic equipment. And remember, along with physical items, thieves have been known to steal personal documents and information they use to steal your identity. A Quora user who asked “Why did the burglars who stole from my family only steal important documents and nothing else?” had just this experience. The bottom line is your identity is much more valuable and easier for an identity theft to convert into cash than physical items. (And for more tips on how to keep your identity safe, visit our blog post here.)
Trust Your Instincts: Above all, listen to your gut. If you have a weird feeling or any doubts at all, cancel the meeting and consider donating the items instead.