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Personal Safety Tips

The overwhelming majority of classified ad posters have nothing but good intentions. While negative ramifications resulting from web-based classified ad activity have been extremely minimal, one can never be too cautious when it comes to personal safety.
It’s very important to always take the same precautions online as you would in the physical world. If your classified ad activity results in a one-on-one meeting, always remember to:
  • Insist on meeting in a public place like a coffee shop
  • Tell a friend or family member where you're going or take them along with you.
  • If you own a cell phone, take it with you,
  • Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t seem quite right, something is probably amiss.
  • Agree to meet during daylight hours in a public place and bring a friend to accompany you. Turn down any request to meet at your house, in an unfamiliar place, or by yourself no matter how big and tough you are.
  • Do not hand over the item until you have cash in hand. Don’t accept partial payment or anything other than cash for the transaction. If the method of payment changes from your previous agreement walk away from the deal.
  • If the potential buyer wants time to consider and comes back later, follow the same procedures. Don’t get careless the second time around.
  • If the item being sold has significant value, meet inside a bank where you can deposit the money before leaving – this way the buyer can’t turn around and rob you. It is hard to be safer than in a bank where there is plenty of security monitoring.
    • The less you show, the less they know. Your house provides many clues about you, your income level, your family, and so on. All of this may be useful information to crooks and predators, so it’s smart to show as little as possible.
    • Move the item into the garage or entryway, if possible. The goal is for potential buyers to see as little as necessary of your house – ideally, they won’t come inside your home at all.
    • Remove from view any items that could be stolen at the time of the visit, or that would be of interest for the potential buyer to steal later. If you have family photos on display, you may choose to put these away as well. (The less someone knows about you the better—for example, you might not want a stranger buying a couch to learn that you had young children and to be able to identify them.)
    • Make your meeting a two-step process. Arrange to meet during daylight hours and have a friend be there with you.
      • First, meet in a public place close to your house. Ask for proof of identity such as a driver’s license. (That way you know who you’re dealing with if there’s is a problem.) Note the license plate number, color, and model of the buyer’s vehicle so you have it in the event there is trouble.
      • If you’re comfortable that the buyer seems legitimate, have them follow you and your friend to your house.
    • If more than one person arrives, keep them together. A common ploy is for one person to engage you with questions while another asks to use the restroom. Decline. This splits your ability to supervise and increases their ability to scope out more of your house and any items worth stealing. It may seem rude to refuse to let someone use your bathroom, but it isn’t. Let them know where the closest public bathroom is located.
    • Don’t hand over the item until you have cash in hand. Don’t accept partial payment, or anything other than cash for the transaction. If the method of payment changes from your previous agreement, decline the deal.
    • If the potential buyer wants time to consider and comes back later, follow the same procedures. Don’t get careless the second time around.
  • With these safety precautions in place, your chances of having only positive selling or purchasing experiences