The world would be much better off if there weren’t any scammers, but like cockroaches, these dirty creatures will never go extinct. These scammers are problematic for everyone, but they’re especially a threat for those who just want to earn some money selling stuff online.
There are several basic scams that sellers need to be wary of when you use services like PayPal, Zelle, and Venmo. The irony here is that these services are supposed to make it easy for buyers to send money and for sellers to receive the money. Yet these services also enable scammers to play their dirty tricks more easily.
So what can you do to make sure that you’re not scammed when you try to sell old stuff from your garage or with the results of your arts and crafts hobby? Here are some tips that should help:
It’s Better If You Only Accept Credit Card or Cash Payments
This is especially true when you’re selling items to people whom you don’t really know. When buyers use checks or money orders, there’s a chance that the money won’t clear and you won’t see the money in your account. When that happens, there’s really not much you can do about it, and you have a snowball’s chance in hell of seeing that money ever again.
Hand the Purchased Item Over Only When You’re Sure You’ve Got the Payment
Always confirm that the buyer has actually paid first before you give them what they want to buy. Remember what Ronald Reagan used to say about Soviet nuclear disarmament? Trust, but verify.
So if the buyer says that they’ve sent a check, wait until it clears and the money is in your account before you have the item sent to the buyer. If the buyers ask that you take their word that they’re good for it, just tell them that confirmation of the payment is SOP. Even if they buyers say that they’ve sent a PayPal transfer and you even see an email confirmation, hold on to your product. You have to really confirm that the right amount of money was sent to and received by your account.
Say No to Overpayments
It doesn’t matter what kind of convincing take that the purchaser tells you. Never take payments that are more than your actual sales price. That can be just another scam. They’ll tell you that they overpaid and then they’ll request that you wire them back the difference. This scam fools you twice, as you give them stuff for free and then you also give them free money as well.
Don’t Cater to Buyers Overseas
Even if everything’s legit, overseas buyers can make things complicated and sending them the stuff can be costly. But claiming to be overseas is one of the more common ways for scam artists to avoid face-to-face contact.
Meet in Public Places
You certainly shouldn’t use an out of the way place to have your transfer of goods. You shouldn’t give out your address at all, unless the transaction involves picking up a large piece of furniture. Try the mall or right beside a bank with security guards. You can even try your local police department with a safe lot program where your meetings have little chance of anyone getting mugged.
Just remember, safety first!