A funny thing happened the other day that I can laugh about now, but it got me thinking…what if things had gone differently? Today we buy and sell so many things via Craigslist, Facebook, and other social networking markets that require some type of face-to-face meeting. It’s always good to refresh yourself on these safe ways to meet up with an internet stranger when buying or selling things.
Safe Ways To Meet up with an Internet Stranger To Buy or Sell
It was a few weeks before Christmas and the only things my five-year-old daughter wanted were two little LOL Surprise Dolls. Like every other ridiculously hot holiday item, these silly toys were sold out both online and in every local store. So I did what every responsible parent does…hop on Craigslist. Viola! There was a person in my city selling exactly what I needed and we arranged to meet in a bank parking lot for the transaction.
You’ve probably experienced these types of meetings before. Personally, my nerves are always a bit on edge not knowing quite who to expect, and my imagination goes into overdrive. That day, I pulled up next to a black SUV, whose windows were tinted so darkly I couldn’t see the person inside. I gulped, looked over both my shoulders, making sure there were at least a few witnesses milling about, and stepped out of my car. That driver side window rolled down and the man inside showed me the goods—two tightly wrapped LOL Dolls. I slipped him a twenty, and practically ran back to my car and drove away.
It can be weird meeting someone to buy or sell things; the stranger-danger ingrained in us as kids still knows how to cause a ruckus. When it comes to these types of transactions, make sure and use these safety tips.
1. Meet in a public place.
It seems like a no-brainer, but make sure you determine a public place for your transaction location. Some place like a grocery store parking lot, a coffee shop, or heck, even a police station parking lot (if you want to be extra safe!). Both parties will feel more comfortable in a place where other people are present, and even security cameras if need be.
2. If you have to meet in a home, bring a friend.
Sometimes meeting in public isn’t feasible. When it comes to buying or selling large furniture, the transaction has to happen at home. I’ve sold a couch, a crib, and a kitchen table this way.
In the instance where someone will have to come into your home to look at or buy an item, first make sure someone else is there with you. The more people the merrier. Before giving them your address, it’s a good idea to chat on the phone. You can learn a lot from a verbal conversation and let your instincts go to work. If possible, have the item ready by the front door.
In the case that you have to enter someone else’s home to make a purchase, take the same precautions. Make sure you bring a friend or family member along. Request that the item be ready for you at the door.
3. Always have a phone.
Whether meeting up to buy a stroller you found on Craigslist or meeting up to sell said stroller, always have your phone on you. Text a friend your plans and tell them you’ll text them as soon as the transaction is complete. Call your mom and have her on speaker phone if that makes you feel more comfortable.
Honestly, 100% of transactions I’ve had with people I met on Craigslist or Facebook have been positive. But it never hurts to be safe.
4. Set up your phone to track your location to friends and family.
You can put your smartphone’s location tracking to good use by sending a close friend or family member your location. Friends can also track your location using apps like Find My Friends. It’s super handy to have, and in cases where you’re meeting up with a stranger to buy or sell, it can offer peace of mind.
5. Bring only the agreed-upon cash.
The Craigslist “Personal Safety” page recommends using care when buying or selling high-valued items like computers, cell phones, or jewelry. Bring only the agreed-upon cash or even handle the transaction at a bank.
6. Do the transaction in daylight hours.
Always carry out your by-owner transactions in the daytime, never at night. Even if schedules have to be switched around or it’s inconvenient, make sure to meet during the day.
7. Don’t give out personal information.
Never, ever give a stranger personal information like your social security number, unnecessary addresses, or bank information. It’s nunya…nunya business. If they ask, that’s a big red flag that you might not want to do business with this person.
8. Listen to your instincts.
If something feels off, listen to your gut. Twenty bucks, fifty bucks, even a thousand bucks isn’t worth risking your safety. God gave you good instincts—trust them.
Again, I’ve done many, many online-to-person transactions and have never had a negative experience. In fact, I’ve met some really nice and interesting people buying and selling on Craigslist. Once I met a professional bull rider whose wife purchased the crib my baby recently outgrew for their first baby. It’s kind of cool how our lives can intertwine.
Online marketplaces are a great way to earn some money selling stuff you don’t need and they’re a good way to save money on used items that are exactly what you’re looking for, as long as you practice general safety precautions and use your common sense.