Guest Post by Meghan Belnap
Thanks to the scalability of the internet, it’s easier than ever to sell items not only locally, but also across the globe. Online ads on Craigslist, Facebook, buy, sell and trade groups, newspaper sale ads and other venues are all excellent platforms for selling and buying items. But along with the ease these mediums provide, potential danger comes with it. Scams, fraud and other crimes are possibilities that can and often do occur. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when doing business with strangers.
Don’t Give Identifying Information
When doing business online, set up a dedicated email account only for that purpose. Use something such as “JoeSellsOnCraiglist@mail.com.” This does not provide any identifying information about you. Further, never give your home address, place of work, school or house of worship to anyone you are doing business with. State in advance that you want cash only and that the person must bring exact change in order to avoid giving credit card or bank information.
Conduct Business in Public
Most police precincts have set up specific places in their lobbies and parking lots where citizens can perform transactions safely. These areas are monitored and all activities are recorded. If your police station does not offer this, consider meeting at another public space where there are people around. Some options might include the library, the lobby of a grocery store or the post office. Do not go to a stranger’s home to make a sale, regardless of how small or insignificant the purchase may be. Avoid any secluded areas such as hiking paths or hallways. Conduct your transaction during daylight hours.
Bring a Friend
Bring another person with you when conducting a sale. Having another person around allows you to do the sale while the other person keeps his or her eyes and ears open for trouble. The other person can also act as a witness to your safety.
Bring Your Cellphone
If you cannot bring a friend along for your sale, at least tell someone where you are going and the name of the person you are meeting. Bring your cellphone to call for help if needed. You can also use your phone to record the transaction. The phone will also act as a GPS for safety.
Following these four tips can help you to stay safe but the best defense is your own intuition. If something does not feel right, get yourself out of the situation. Your safety is invaluable.
About the Author: Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She loves being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise. Meghan finds happiness in researching new topics that help to expand her horizons. If interested in learning more techniques about safely handling business deals, consider an online masters in criminal justice. You can often find her buried in a good book or out looking for an adventure. You can connect with her on Facebook right here and Twitter right here.