Heading into the holidays, some people have an urge to declutter. One way to make this happen is by selling items online, and picking up some extra holiday cash.
The majority of online transactions generated by sites like Craigslist are cordial and safe. But sometimes selling items on the internet can lead to a dicey situation. When exchanging items for cash and dealing with strangers, there’s a possibility of “something going wrong.” So what’s the best way to stay safe when meeting up with strangers to make a sale?
The key to protect yourself in these scenarios is taking basic precaution to lean on the side of safety rather than convenience—and reduce your risk.
To help you, hundreds of police stations now offer safe zones to conduct your sale. Complete with security cameras, these pre-arranged locations have been designated for you to use if you’re buying and selling items from online sites such as Craigslist, OfferUp, eBay, letgo.com and Facebook Marketplace.
The advantages of using safe zones to sell include:
- The police are right there if things start to go sideways.
- The locations are well lit, and in a visible spot where there is high foot and vehicle traffic.
- In many cities, local police stations will have a hand full of parking spots with signs stipulating “internet sales meeting points.”
- Many police stations not only support this activity, but some will also provide a police officer to be present during the transaction upon request.
When using a safe zone to make a sale, be sure to:
- Meet during daytime hours.
- Never carry cash.
- Tell someone you know your destination and estimated time of arrival beforehand.
- Don’t discuss where you live or give any unnecessary details.
- If someone doesn’t want to meet you at a safe zone, just go to the next buyer.
How can you find a safe zone near you? Go to SafeTrade for a stations list and tips for meeting and how to sell. If something about the other person or the item doesn’t seem right, police officials urge people to trust their instincts and back away from the deal. If things do go wrong, police recommend you just comply because no transaction is worth getting hurt over.
Resources: Krebs on Security, WMAR-2 News, the Advanced Interactive Media Group LLC, KWKT