Selling items online, including furniture, clothing, even a car, is a convenient way to clear out your possessions and earn a little extra money. There are scammers out there waiting for you to post your items, though, and it’s important to take into consideration ways to keep yourself – and your money – safe.
Charles Broe, Security & Fraud Director at Mid-Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union, shares some tips on keeping your online buying and selling experience secure.
- Be aware that scammers are very good at posing as legitimate buyers, even going so far as to build rapport via emails and texts. If you receive a check from a buyer that exceeds the selling price, it is almost certain you are about to be the victim of a scam. They will ask you to cash the check (which often turns out to be a fraudulent check) and wire the excess back. Destroy the check and cease contact with that buyer.
- Never post or share personal banking information, including your account or debit card number, to conduct a transaction. Unless you’re shopping at a verified website, assume any information you share is at risk.
- Only accept bank checks or cash, and realize that even bank checks can be fraudulent.
- Understand that if you do accept a check and your financial institution puts a hold on it, they are doing so to protect you. Once the check comes back as legitimate and the funds are actually pulled from the buyer’s account, then your financial institution will release the funds to you. If funds are made immediately available to you, and the check comes back as bad, you will be responsible for covering the funds out of your own account.
- If you do sell items online and are meeting the buyer, do so only in a public parking lot (like a police station) and only during daylight. Never give a buyer your home address as a meeting place.
Following these tips will help you make the most out of the online marketplace while keeping your wallet safe.
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