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Sunday, January 23, 2022
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Staying Safe in the Online Marketplace


Small shopping cart with packages in it on a laptop. | Image by Tevarak

Christmas is right around the corner, and after a turbulent year, many are facing the holiday season on a limited budget. In an effort to save money or possibly to earn a few dollars, some are turning to online marketplace sites to purchase or sell both new and used items.

Online marketplaces such as Craigslist, OfferUp, and Facebook Marketplace offer a convenient way to connect local buyers and sellers. It may seem like a good way to save some cash or turn a buck, but such transactions come pre-loaded with an inherent amount of risk.

Fox News reported that a teen in Harris County, Texas, was shot on Sunday, November 28, during a meet-up to sell a PlayStation 5. The “buyer” shot the nineteen-year-old victim and stole the console valued at over $500.00. The teen was hospitalized but is expected to recover.

Last month, in Chicago, a teen was killed, and his brother was shot during a meet-up arranged via the OfferUp app. Fox News reported that the 29-year-old seller of an Xbox video game console claimed he shot the two brothers when they allegedly tried to steal the item from him.

So how should you go about buying or selling items in online marketplace sites? ADT Security Services offers these tips for buying and selling items safely online.

  • Make sure that the transaction is worth your time. If the item is being sold at the same price as what you can find in-store or on a reputable retailer’s website, it would be safer to buy it at the store or on an official retailer website. Also, if the items are inexpensive, it may not be worth the back and forth conversation to negotiate price and plan for delivery.
  • Use a proxy email address. This keeps your personal email address safe from spammers.
  • Make sure all details such as price, type of payment, location, and time are discussed before meeting. This decreases the possibility of in-person arguments that could escalate to violence.
  • Meet in a secure location. One suggestion is to meet at “Safespots,” dedicated locations at law enforcement offices where buyers and sellers can make in-person transactions while under surveillance. Also, bring a friend; there’s safety in numbers.
  • Accept cash only. This is the best way to stay clear of scammers as it avoids the problem of bounced or fake checks. If it’s a big-ticket item, such as a car, meet at a bank where a cashier’s check can be purchased on the spot, and never agree to wire money or receive a wire transfer.
  • Finally, use your gut. If it seems too good to be true or you feel uneasy about the transaction, it’s better to heed the warning and stay safe.
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