Now that online platforms such as Craigslist, Facebook and others have made classified ads more accessible, it’s important to know how to stay safe while meeting with strangers to exchange purchases.
Here are some simple steps you can take to stay safe during Internet purchase exchanges:
- See if there is an “Internet purchase exchange location” in your area. These locations—usually set up by a local police department—offer a safe, open area that is under constant video surveillance.
- Don’t meet strangers at private residences, or in an area you’re unfamiliar with.
- Perform exchanges during daylight hours.
- Bring a friend or family member to accompany you during exchanges.
- Don’t provide buyers or sellers with private information that’s unnecessary to the exchange.
- Remember that if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Unfortunately, both traditional and online classified ads frequently attract fraudsters and criminals. When negotiating purchases, try to do some research to see if the price offered or asked for a product seems reasonable. Also, avoid any unusual forms of compensation. These can include mailing checks or money orders, being asked for banking information, or making payments after an exchange has already taken place.