Buying or selling something through an online classified ad site can be a great way to get a good deal on an item or to sell something you no longer need. But it’s important to watch out for scams that could jeopardize your safety or money.

Here are some important tips to keep in mind:

If you’re buying something:

  • Shop locally and be wary of deals that sound too good to be true.
  • Use the web to comparison shop to see what similar items are selling for. That way, you’ll get a better idea of what a fair price might be.
  • Photos should be of the actual product being offered, not a generic product photo taken from another site.
  • Ask questions, and keep asking until you’re satisfied.
  • Pay with cash, and don’t share any personal information such as bank or payment card numbers, or any other personal information that isn’t necessary for the sale.
  • For your safety, make your purchase in a public place, or take someone with you to the seller’s house.
  • Check to see if your city has an approved buy/sell/trade location and use this site for your transactions.

If you’re selling something:

  • Don’t share personal information. Unless the item is too big to deliver somewhere other than your home, you shouldn’t even need to share your address.
  •  It’s best to accept only cash. Personal or cashier’s checks can be forged, which means you get no money.
  • Deal locally. That helps you avoid getting scammed by not being paid via mail or email. And don’t accept offers to have money wired to you.

When it comes to online classifieds, whether you’re buying or selling, if you feel uncomfortable or threatened don’t hesitate to leave or call the police. And if the deal isn’t right for you, don’t feel bad about walking away or turning down a price you don’t feel is fair.