Top 10 Tips for Safe Online Buying and Selling


More and more people are using the internet to buy and sell a whole range of items, with Craigslist alone reporting around 80 million ads on its site every month.  This means that either you or someone you know will have met up with a complete stranger at some point to exchange goods.

The vast majority of the time, these meetings pass without any problems but unfortunately, there is a criminal element who have taken to using these sites for nefarious activities.


One example was a couple from Georgia who travelled to a Craigslist transaction last month with the aim of buying a 1966 Ford Mustang.  They left their home in Atlanta having done everything right – travelled together, told their family where they were going – but sadly the bodies of Elrey Runion and his wife June were found on January 26th.  A man from South Georgia has been charged with their murder.

Just last Friday, two men met up in Georgia to purchase a dog.  The seller drew a gun on the two men with the aim of robbing them but one of the buyers himself had a gun and the seller was fatally shot.  The investigation into the matter is still ongoing.

Top tips

These incidents are the extreme version of what can go wrong but being careful and cautious when making this kind of transaction never hurts.  According to one law enforcement adviser and defence attorney the following tips should be kept in mind when meeting up to buy or sell goods:

  • Don’t give out personal information

Think of this as a business transaction or similar to buying from a shop – you wouldn’t give Amazon your social security number so why would you give it to a seller on Craigslist?  Never give out bank information or your home address.

  • Keep your cell phone at hand

Make sure you keep your cell phone in your hang for the duration of the transaction so you can ring 911 if something feels wrong

  • Don’t use a personal email

Use an anonymous email address to conduct conversations with buyers or sellers

  • Disable caller ID

Disable caller ID when contacting a buyer or seller which can be done from most phones by dialling *67 before making the call

  • Never pay with cash

Don’t pay with or accept cash, use a cashier’s check instead and make it so that it is a non-negotiable part of the deal before you even leave home

  • Use a bank if it is a high priced item

For more expensive purchases, make the transaction at a banking facility so a banking professional can oversee the process

  • Meet during the day

Never meet a buyer or seller at night, always during the day

  • Never meet at your home

Always use a neutral site to meet up, never use your or someone else’s home

  • Tell someone the details of the meeting

Make sure someone trusted knows where you are going, when you are meeting and as much information as you can, take a friend or family member along if possible

  • Meet in a public place

Never meet in a secluded location, always meet in a public place.  Most police departments are open 24 hours a day and are more than happy to host these meetings for the ultimate security.


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