How to protect yourself when buying or selling online

Avoiding scams online

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. -- The internet has opened up the world in a lot of ways that are good. Sites such as Craigslist and Facebook Garage Sale and services such as OfferUp have made it easy to sell unwanted personal items. But it’s also opened up the door to scammers and people who might be looking to commit crimes.

Dan Hendrikson from the Better Business  Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota joined us on KARE 11 News@4 to talk about how can people protect themselves. The following are some of his suggestions:

• Set up meetings during daytime hours and in a public place (coffee shop, restaurant). Some police departments here in the metro are even allowing people to conduct online transactions on their property. You’ll want to call the non-emergency line to see if your local police department offers that service.
• If the seller insists you come to their home or apartment, always think of your safety first and trust your instincts. If you don’t like the direction things are taking, walk away.
• Check around and see if there are any businesses in your area which act as brokers for online sales; firms that help ensure safety for both buyers and sellers and collect a commission on the sale of items.

Any other tips to ensure a successful online transaction?
• Try to deal with local buyers and sellers.
• Never wire funds.
• Be very careful when making larger purchases – such as a car.
• Never give out too much personal info or any financial information.
• Don’t accept money orders and be leery of cashier checks, as both are easy to forge. If you cash a fake money order or cashier check, the bank will hold you responsible when it discovers it is fraudulent.
• Apartment or home rentals should be thoroughly checked out and inspected in person before money is put down.
• Consider the risks involved with selling a high value item yourself vs. dealing with a reputable pawn shop, consignment or secondhand store. Is it worth it?


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