Buying on sites or apps such as OfferUp can be a great alternative for those looking for great deals, but as the holidays approach, these avenues offer new opportunities for potential criminals to pull off scams or rob potential buyers.
According to OfferUp, a popular online marketplace, 46 percent of people will be using their phones and apps to buy gifts for the holidays, and OfferUp is working with 1,500 law enforcement agencies across the nation to educate consumers on how to stay safe when meeting to exchange an item.
As such, OfferUp has provided a list of safety tips for consumers to stay out of danger during the holiday season. Below are a few safety tips to take into consideration:
If you're going to search for an item, remember to shop smart, and when is time to meet the person you're buying from, make sure to meet at a safe location and be careful of late night transactions.
- If buying an item from an online posting, take a good look at the photo, description, and condition of anything you're interested in. The photo should show the actual item for sale, not a catalog photo.
- Use the sites' reviews to help you decide about reputable sellers.
- Agree to meet in well-lit, well-crowded public locations (not in your vehicle), and let a friend or family member know where you're going.
- You can meet at a Safe Trade Spot, a police station, or a grocery store to exchange high-value items.
It's also always important to remember to keep personal information private and to know the rules and policies of payment methods.
- Do what you can to keep your cell phone number and other identifying information private. Apps like OfferUp let you use secure messaging.
- Never share your account info, password, phone number, or email address. Sometimes people will "phish" for your confidential info, to try to steal your online identity. OfferUp will never ask you to put account or personal info in a message thread.
- Don't use Western Union to send money blindly; don't use PayPal or Venmo to pay without having your item
- If you're dealing with large amounts of cash, consider exchanging near a bank or investing in a counterfeit detector pen to verify the bills are real.
If you feel you're in danger, call 911 immediately, and if a crime has been committed, contact local law enforcement immediately to report the incident.