The market for secondhand goods can be a boon for anyone looking to downsize their spending, especially given the rise of online trading platforms like Craigslist. With some savvy searching, it’s possible to find goods that are good as new – without the new price tag. From cars to apartments, technology to concert tickets to furniture to musical instruments, it’s all out there, and chances are a decent amount of is legitimate: however, scams are also lurking among the secondhand shopping deals.
Here are some of the cues to watch out for – and best practices to keep yourself and your money safe – if you’re on the hunt for a secondhand bargain.
- First and foremost, and this applies to every kind of transaction imaginable – don’t accept offers conditional on a down payment or up-front fee of any kind. This type of scam is more prevalent in the secondhand auto sales and real estate/rental markets, but it’s also a surefire way to identify unscrupulous loans as well as any kind of salesmanship scam over the phone or web.
- Arrange to meet in public: somewhere well trafficked and well-lit, with people coming and going at a variety of times. Avoid asking a seller to come to your house, or going to theirs. Some municipal police stations will allow Craigslist transactions to take place on their grounds: this will certainly deter any would-be scam artists from turning up on the premises.
- Occasionally, stolen items will be listed for resale online. Look for rock-bottom pricing compared to similar items, listings using stock photos rather than actual images of the item, look for serial numbers that can be checked against a database, and ask the seller lots of questions to make sure they have their story straight.
- For large secondhand shopping purchases such as vehicles, make sure to obtain plentiful supporting documents and cross-check their accuracy with one another. Spending the time doing the research will pay off in the end – no legitimate seller is so motivated that they will not be likely to wait for you to do your due diligence.
- If you can, pay in cash. Not only are you keeping better track of your spending and subconsciously avoiding impulse purchases by using cash, you are also protecting your personal information from phishing attempts that may target money transfers, credit transactions, Paypal, and other transfer services.
With luck and a careful eye for telling markers, you can stretch your dollar a bit further on the secondhand market. Just remember, as with any financial transaction, if it looks too good to be true – it probably is. Happy hunting!