GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – Many of us are looking to move out old items or things we no longer want. Selling items online is popular for Spring cleaning, but the Better Business Bureau warns us to be safe when we do so.
Better Business Bureau President Vee Daniel said it’s important to never meet to exchange items alone or at your home address. Meet at a public place like a police department or gas station with people around.
Many sellers want cash but using a money app like Venmo or Cash App can work well.
Here are some other tips the BBB offers for buying and selling items online safely.
How to Stay Safe When Buying and Selling Online
Tips for safe online selling:
• Watch out for shady buyers. Con artists often pose as buyers in scams. Sometimes they offer to overpay for an item, but that’s not their only tactic. Beware of buyers who ask you to make transactions outside of the selling platform or those who ask for personal information, such as your banking information.
• Be extra cautious when making local sales. Some platforms allow you to meet up with people in your local area to exchange your item for cash in person. While this can be an effective way to sell big items and avoid marketplace fees, use caution when meeting up with strangers. Don’t be quick to give them your home address, instead ask buyers to meet you in a safe place, such as outside your local police department. Never meet up with a buyer you don’t know alone. Always bring your partner or a friend to make the transaction.
• Always protect your personal information. As you sell items online, keep your sensitive personal information under lock and key. Avoid communicating with buyers outside of the online platform you are using to make the sale and don’t give out your home address, phone number, or email address.
• Don’t ship an item before you receive a payment. Make sure any payments you receive are legitimate before you ship your item to the seller. If you ship before they pay, you will have no way to get your item back.
• Look out for counterfeit emails. Scammers are skilled at imitating emails from popular payment services, such as Venmo or PayPal. Examine all emails carefully. If an email comes from a domain that isn’t official or contains obvious typos and grammatical errors, it’s probably a scam.
Tips for safe online shopping:
• Check the photos. Do a reverse image search of the product to be sure the seller isn’t using a stock image or someone else’s image. If you see the exact photo from your Google search, the seller is most likely a scammer.
• Watch out for duplicate sites. Some of the best deals are only available online,but be careful. It’s easy for a fake site to mimic a famous retailer’s website, so make sure you are shopping with a legitimate site. If the site is missing contact information, that is a red flag.
• Be careful buying pets online. Law enforcement and consumer advocates now say a person searching online for a new pet is extremely likely to encounter a scam listing or website. This has been a big scam lately because of COVID-19 with people being home more and wanting pets. Be sure you see the pet in real life or on a video call before paying any money. Do a reverse image search of the photo of the pet. Also, know a fair selling price for the pet and beware of “free” or deeply discounted purebred dogs. These are warning signs of a scam.
• Think before you click. Be especially cautious about email solicitations and online ads on social media sites. Many sketchy retailers advertise great deals or trendy clothing that don’t measure up to the promotional hype.
• Shop with a credit card. In case of a fraudulent transaction, a credit card provides additional protections; it’s easier to dispute charges that you didn’t approve or to get your money back if there is a problem. Debit cards, prepaid cards or gift cards don’t have the same protections as a credit card.
• Always do your homework! You must be a savvy shopper and research any company you’re considering purchasing from. Check out retailers at BBB.org before you shop. Also, search the company name on Google—and read customer reviews. You can also check to see if the website is secure. If the site is secure, its URL (web address) should start with “https://” and include a lock icon on the purchase or shopping cart page.