How to safely sell used items online

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Posted at 9:33 AM, Jul 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-13 11:33:46-04

BOISE, Idaho — If you've been spending your extra time at home cleaning out clutter, you might be wondering about the next steps. How can you get rid of some of your old stuff in a safe manner?

Should you decide to sell those items, the Better Business Bureau is reminding everyone to take some extra safety measures before, during, and after you do so. It's easy to snap a photo, write a quick description, and wait for potential buyers on sites like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, PoshMark, or OfferUp. While many buyers may be genuine, scammers are always lurking in the online marketplace.

Someone you may post an item for sale and have interested parties respond quickly, sometimes even ready to pay without asking any questions or before they ever see the item. You might accept the offer but when the check arrives, it's for an amount higher than the price you listed. The buyer claims it was a mistake and asks you to send back the difference.

Typically, a week after you've deposited the check into your account, it's flagged as fake and bounces. You may have thought you were in the clear once the funds are deposited, but it often takes longer for a bank to realize that a check is bad. This lag in time between when a check reaches your account and when it's discovered to be a forgery is exactly what scammers are counting on. Plus, the money you sent back will be lost for good.

So what should you do if you're looking to make quick cash and sell online?

· Do not accept checks or money orders as payment. Scammers frequently use checks to line their own pockets. Victims who deposit bad checks are held responsible by the bank for the money lost. Only accept payment through methods recommended by the app or website.

· Avoid prospective buyers who want to communicate with you outside of the official selling platform. When you communicate and accept payments outside of the platform, you are at greater risk for fraud and forfeit protections that the platform can provide.

· Be wary of people offering to buy your item without seeing it first. Trust your gut. And if you receive a check for more than requested, red flags should be raising.

· Never send money back via untraceable payment methods, once the funds are gone- they’re gone. Keep all transaction dealings on the site or app.

For more tips, click here. BBB also has a number of other resources to help you stay safe, click here.