Hints and Tips

Sometimes I write up some tips or hints. I've collected some here for your amusement.

Here are some hints

Scroll up for the full list of hints

Safe Buying and Selling

Here are a few hints to keep you safe when buying and selling locally online.

General Safety

Buying and selling with a local BST (Buy/Sell/Trade) group can be fun and rewarding. It can also be a real pain. Even with a local group, scammers can sometimes get in. Here are a few ways you can protect yourself.

First off, and most important, deal with someone local who you can meet in person. I don't recommend ever shipping anything. That's what eBay is for.

Never give out any personal or financial information. Even though local Facebook BST groups are supposed to be local, posting your phone number or email is never a good idea. Use Facebook Messages or the sale comments to communicate.

Never buy something without seeing it in person first. Sometimes people don't post an accurate photo of the item. Some even use stock photos from a website (that's frowned on everywhere). Know what you're buying. By the same token, see all electronic devices start up and operate. It's pretty common for someone to complain to an Admin that "I bought this computer and it doesn't work and they won't give a refund and I feel ripped off". Nope. Doesn't make it. If you didn't see it run you were, indeed, ripped off but the fault is your own.

Along this line, if you're buying a phone, be sure it has a "clear title". Never ever ever buy a phone without checking its IMEI to see if it's able to be registered or reported as stolen. See my other hint Check your phone.

For your own personal safety, always meet the buyer or seller in a public place such as a restaurant. It's probably a good idea if you bring a friend as well to witness the transaction and keep an eye out for your safety. If it's a high priced transaction like a car or truck, it's a good idea to meet at a local bank.

Payment Thoughts

Payment is something to think about. Several years ago I was selling a washer/dryer on ebay. $300. I got a message from a guy who wanted to buy it. He wanted it shipped to Oregon. I said no. He then fed-exed me a check for $5000. He wanted me to take my $300, $300 for shipping and $300 for my "inconvenence". I was to send by Fed-ex overnight his "change" in a certified check. To Atlanta! The check was drawn on a Texas school system. OK. Texas check, ship $300 washer to Oregon and send $4100 to Atlanta. I laughed for hours.

The point, however, is that this guy thought he was going to rob me. Someone else I know had the same thing happen. He asked my advice. He had taken the check (like mine from the school system) to the bank and the teller had said it was good. He wanted to deposit it. I pointed out that it might fill his bank account but would be removed once the actual check owner found it.

I guess the moral is to not accept payments from out of your area.

Cash is great. Don't take a check. At all. There's no reason to. There are ATMs on every corner. If you take a check and the buyer later finds something he or she doesn't like, they can stop payment. You're stuck. No checks.

Paypal is good. However, please remember that it's insanely easy to steal people's Paypal information. If you do take Paypal, notify the buyer that you'll only deliver the item to the Paypal Verified Address. No "Shipping to a friend". If you're dealing locally that's not a problem. If you're shipping, remember that Paypal will delete the sale if there's a complaint. The Paypal user is never accountable for stupidly giving away his account password.

A couple of recent examples

A member of our local group was selling a stove. She got a message from a buyer who wanted to talk about it. This guy actually created a Facebook Group to hide his actual account information. He sent her a forged check. Fortunately they caught the check and the transaction died. Here's what his group looked like:

Here's a second example. This is a message one of our users got. It's obvious that this is someone from another country trying to get information. Wisely, she ignored it.

Never underestimate the skill that thieves can use. Be careful now. It's a jungle out there.