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Online Classified Ad Safety

 

When using online networks which provide users with a central database for classified ads like Craig’s List, VendAnything, Kijiji, OLX, AmericanListed or ViewMyClassified, always consider safety precautions.  

 

Safety tips

  • Use the same precautions online as you would offline. When meeting someone for the first time.
  • Insist on a high traffic, well-lit, public meeting place like a cafe. Never meet in a secluded area.
  • Never agree to move to a secondary location. This is a red flag.
  • Never invite a stranger into your home or go to a stranger’s home at any time during the transaction.
  • Use extra precautions, especially when buying/selling high value items.
  • Always tell a friend or family member where you're going and when you should be back. 
  • Check-in when you get there and check-in when you are finished and leaving.
  • Always have a friend go with you.  There is safety in numbers.
  • Arrive early at the predetermined location and observe what is happening around you. Trust your instincts.  If something does not feel right, STOP, do not proceed.  Abandon the deal.

 

Posting tips

  • Protect personal and financial information from disclosure.
  • Post photos without Geotag information.
  • Don’t be so desperate to sell something that you are willing to sell away your safety.
  • Use proxy email addresses and not your true address.
  • Consider a Google Voice number instead of giving out your phone number.

 

Avoiding Scams

  • Deal locally, face-to-face.
  • Only extent payment after you have safety met in person using the above mentioned precautions.
  • There is a higher risk for fraud with deals that involve shipping.  The best deals are with those you can meet safely in person.
  • Never wire funds (e.g. Western Union). A request for you to wire funds should be a warning sign that the transaction is probably a scam.
  • Even cashier/certified checks or money orders can be fake. If you deposit or cash a fake check, the bank will hold you responsible.
  • Only get involved in transactions with the seller, no third parties.
  • Protect your financial information (bank account, social security, PayPal account, etc.).
  • Do not rent or purchase sight-unseen.
  • Refuse background/credit checks until you have met landlord/employer in person.  

Taking these simple precautions helps make online classified ad transactions safer for everyone. For more information about personal safety online, check out these resources:

http://www.staysafeonline.org

http://www.onguardonline.gov

http://www.getsafeonline.org

http://www.wiredsafety.org