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Is Selling Online Safe?

 

There’s a certain level of comfort that comes with purchasing items from a store; fortunately for today’s online savvy society, you can achieve that same feeling of safety with a few simple and proactive steps.

 

For many, the notion of selling things online to strangers is a daunting thought.  But why wouldn’t it be?  Between the nightly news and trending stories on social media, it would appear that our world is increasing in danger at a rate that wildly surpasses our ability to protect ourselves.

Contrary to the horror stories we hear, however, there are still tons of people who are selling things online – safely and successful.

“Better safe than sorry” goes the old expression.  And ‘tis right.

Here are some essential “safe keeping” items for online sellers:

  • Take photographs wisely.  Pictures of the item(s) being sold should be STRICTLY of what’s being sold.  Objects in the background give away a lot more information than one may suspect  — whether it be about you, your family, your income, your life style, etc.  Steer clear of things like furniture, electronics, appliances, children, cars, garages, etc.  Those give the prospective buyer a lot of inside scoop about you.
  • Always speak to a live body.  A text or email exchange is a lay-up for a poor experience.  You’ll want a phone number not only for the area code (keeping it local is safer) but to hear the inquirer’s voice.  You’d be surprised at how much you can tell about someone by simply talking to him or her on the phone.
  • Keep payments green.  This means cash.  Your goal is to let the medium of payment do the authentication for you.  The only exception would be a money order.  NO personal checks!!
  • Go public.  YOU choose the place, never the buyer, and you’ll want to have it picked out ahead of time.  The location needs to be a place you’ve been before and are familiar with.  If you can’t exchange the item anywhere except your house (with larger items, for example), then meet the buyer in a public place first – this will allow you to gauge the individual and your interaction.  If all feels well, then have them follow you to your house.  Make sure to prepare the item ahead of time; having it on your porch or in the front yard is the ideal scenario, as it keeps the prospective buyer out of your house.
  • Never go alone.   Not only is someone else good for support, but you also don’t ever want to find yourself in a situation where you are outnumbered.  It’s a long-time-used strategy — where one person distracts and the other person does the damage.  Play it safe and be prepared with a partner.
  • Keep records.  Do you have to keep the records forever? Of course not, but it IS a business transaction, so having all communication records (such as emails, texts, etc.) is handy and beneficial.
  • Stick to the basics.  Only give information out that’s directly related to the item for sale.  It’s easy to get caught up in chitchat and extra (but un-needed) details.  The less they know about you the better.
  • Keep communication disposable. At the very least, create a Google Voice number that you link to your cell phone.  If you don’t know what that is, click here for some info.  And at a more cautious level, create a separate email address that you use to communicate with prospective buyers.  This creates a situation where your personal number is kept private and you’re not left wondering who has your information.
  • Stay consistent.  Stick with what you said, and follow those guidelines each and every single time.  If someone brings a check when you specified cash, walk away.  If someone wants to meet up after they’ve given it some more thought, follow the same procedures when you met the first time.  If someone suggests a place you’re not familiar with, say no.  It’s easy to get lax… and even easier to want to accommodate your potential buyer’s wishes.  But safety doesn’t happen on accident.  You have to plan for it.

Above all else: TRUST YOUR INSTINCT.  If it feels fishy, chances are it is.

Any other safety tips? Share below!