1. Initial Contact
Safely ask questions. It helps to research the market value of an item to know if you’re getting a good deal. When you first contact a seller by phone or email, express your interest in the item and ask any questions you may have about the condition and/or history of the item. Ask to see digital photos as well. Limit personal information. Limit the amount of information you share about yourself (for example, don’t give out your home phone or address and remove personal information from your email signature file). After the seller has answered some questions and seems credible, you may need to disclose more information about yourself such as your name and cell phone number. Try to keep it limited to that. Establish the credibility of the seller. In addition to communicating over email, we recommend talking to the seller by phone before meeting them.
2. Seeing and Evaluating the Item
Safely do your research. It helps to do advance research on the market value of item so you will know if you are getting a good deal. You may want to bring copies of similar listings with you that support your valuation. Don’t be afraid to haggle or negotiate on price, but don’t insult the seller with an unreasonably low offer. See it before you buy it. Always see the item in person before you buy it. If it is merchandise, inspect its condition carefully. If it is a car, check the vehicle history and ask for receipts for any service records. You can also request a pre-purchase inspection at a local mechanic, a service which can identify potential safety and mechanical issues. Take the car on a test drive and for extra precaution, ensure that the car is registered in the seller’s name. If the item in question is a pet, check its veterinary records and pedigree papers.
3. Meeting the Seller
Safely meet in a public place. Meet in a public place if possible – during the daytime when other people will be around. Bring a friend. If the item is large, like a piece of furniture, and you must go to the seller’s home, always let someone know where you are going. You may also want to share whatever contact info you have for the seller (their address, phone number and etc.).
4. The Transaction
Safely pay cash. In online classifieds, it’s best to pay cash and to keep the payment simple. Do not use personal checks, money wires, Western Union or Moneygrams. Do not give out any personally identifiable information such as bank numbers or credit card numbers. Ask for a signed receipt. Protect your personally identifiable information. Don’t give out your bank numbers, credit card numbers, etc.
Trust your instincts. Item not as described? Seller seems evasive or suspicious?
Don’t be afraid to walk away from the deal.
1. Posting Your Ad
Safely be descriptive, use photos. Describe your item as accurately as possible to set buyer expectations. Include photos to give an idea of the appearance and condition of the item. Limit personal information. When posting your ad, use an email address that does not personally identify you (for example, use a Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo email rather than a work or home email). If you use a phone number, use your cell number instead of your home phone.
2. Responding to Initial Contact
Safely answer questions. Respond to any interested buyer over email and/or by phone to answer his or her questions and to determine whether he or she is someone with whom you want to do business. Try to get a sense of his or her overall credibility and trustworthiness to see if you want to move forward. Limit personal information. Don’t disclose any personally identifiable information, like where you work, until you feel comfortable with the other person. Avoid inviting someone to your home.
3. Meeting the Buyer
Safely be catious when doing business with people who are not local. . Meet in a public place if possible, or if the item is large, like a piano or a washer and dryer, arrange to have a friend over when the buyer arrives. If you are selling an item, you may want to schedule your showings all at one time, especially if you are at home alone. Let a neighbor know that potential buyers are coming to your house. Be prepared to negotiate. A buyer may want to haggle with you about the price of an item. Be prepared to negotiate the price and terms of the transaction, but be clear where you stand. Mark the listing as “sold” or remove it from the listing after it is sold. For common courtesy, once your item is sold, be sure to remove your ad and contact any interested buyers so they don’t waste their time coming to see it.
4. The Transaction
Safely insist on cash. For online classifieds transactions, cash is the safest and the simplest form of payment. Be catious when accepting personal checks, money wires, Western Union or Moneygrams. Do not give out any personally identifiable information such as bank numbers or credit card numbers. Also, ask for payment in full. A potential buyer may be uncomfortable carrying around large amounts , so an alternative is to go to a bank together and arrange the payment transfered to you. Protect your personally identifiable information. Don’t give out your bank numbers, credit card numbers, etc. Offer a receipt. Detail the amount of the transaction and the condition of the item should any further disputes arise. Make sure that both parties sign and keep a receipt, especially in the case such as of a car sale. You may need the receipt later as proof of relinquishing ownership and responsibility of the vehicle if it is not registered.