March 23, 2016 11:11 am
Shopping over the Internet is a modern convenience that millions of people do without any problems or hassles. However, as with all transactions, the phrase “buyer beware” applies. And this is particularly so when buying property on popular web sites such as Craigslist and eBay that host on-line classified ads.
Again, most times, using these web sites is safe and convenient. But sometimes it can lead to a rip-off, scam or robbery. It’s always best to be careful, cautious and guarded in all of your financial transactions. However, an extra dose of caution is wise when you don’t know the person on the other end of the computer. Here are some safety tips that will help prevent you from becoming a victim:
- Never give out your personal financial information.
- Opt for transactions that can be settled through face-to-face meetings at a local place. Never meet at someone’s home. Make sure the meeting is during the day, in public and at a high-traffic location.
- Never wire funds via Western Union, MoneyGram or any other wire service. If anyone asks you to do this, it’s a sure sign that it’s a scam. And if you’re scammed through one of these services, there’s very little recourse for getting your money back.
- Be wary about sending money for an item that you haven’t seen.
- Be extremely cautious about buying an item that has no pictures.
- If you’re placing an item for sale, don’t accept checks from far away banks or long-distance companies. They’re almost always fakes. If you’re selling something, insist on a cash-only transaction.
- Avoid dealing with intermediaries, such as couriers or shipping companies. Again, this is a sure sign of a scam.
- Be wary if the other party wants to use an escrow service such as BidPay, Squaretrade or even PayPal. This could be part of an attempt to scam you.
- If you’re the seller, beware of anyone who wants you to send them money. This is a certain rip-off in which the scammer wants to send you a check for more than the purchase price and then have you send them back the difference. There’s no logical or legitimate reason why anyone would ask you to do this. The problem is, you won’t discover that their check is a fake until it’s too late and you’ve already deposited it in your account and sent money back to the scammer.
The best way to avoid these and other scams is to use common sense, be a smart buyer and trust your instincts. And as always, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is!