If you want to buy something second hand online, there are lots of sites and apps to choose from. While some are more well known than others, like Facebook® Marketplace, Craigslist® or VarageSale, whatever you use, you always need to think about your security. Here are some tips to help ensure a safe online shopping experience.
Do your research
Before committing to buying an item, research the item you’re looking to buy and the person you’ll be buying it from.
Research the item you’re looking to buy on other sites to compare prices and see if the asking price is reasonable.
Then have a look at the seller’s profile and their seller history. Some sites and apps show feedback from users who’ve bought from the seller before. You can also search for the seller’s name, username or email online and see what information pops up.
Inspect the item before you buy
Try to see the item in person before purchasing it. Inspect the item carefully to see if it’s what you want or if there are any scratches, dents or other issues with it. If possible, ask if you can test the item to see if it’s in working condition. Remember, you haven’t fully committed to buying the item yet and you can pass if you’re unsure.
Meet in a public space
It’s wise to meet the seller in a public space like a coffee shop or shopping mall. If the item is too big or heavy to bring to a public space like furniture or a used car, you may have to do a porch pick up. The seller can either leave the item on your porch or vice-versa. Whether you’re going over to the seller’s house or you’re meeting in a public space, bring someone with you or let a loved one know where you’re going and how long you expect to be.
Some police departments have designated safe spots to buy and sell items, including Mississauga and Brampton, Winnipeg and Calgary. Check around for similar initiatives in your area.
Avoid paying in advance
When buying an item from a seller, avoid making a transaction in advance. You need to check the condition and quality of the item before you commit, and you’ll have less chance of falling for a scam. Don’t give out personal financial information. If you decide to buy the item, pay in cash when possible.
Ask to see an appraisal or certificate of authenticity
When you shop online for expensive items like jewellery, paintings or autographs, ask the seller to provide an appraisal or certificate of authenticity. Not only will you want validity, but you may require proof to show your insurance provider if you need to make a claim later.
Trust your intuition
Ultimately, if a seller or transaction feels suspicious or unsafe, it very well could be. Take some time to consider the purchase or ask a close family member or friend for their opinion. Be wary of items and descriptions that seem too good to be true.
For more on this topic
15 tips for staying safe online
Replacement cost vs. market value cost: What you need to know
How to use buy and sell sites
Thinking about shopping online for used items? There are lots of sites and mobile apps to choose from, but you still need to think about your security before you buy from just anyone. Here are some tips to help you shop safe.
These tips are provided for information and prevention purposes only. They are general in nature, and The Personal cannot be held liable for them. We recommend using caution and consulting an expert for comprehensive, tailored advice.