Selling your stuff can be rewarding. Not only financially, but getting rid of stuff you don’t need also improves your quality of life. You’re not hoarding junk and you’re making space in your home for new purchases or just more living space!
Related: How to Sell Stuff You Don’t Want
One of the downsides of selling is that there’s a chance you’ll run into bad apples. You may meet these people both in person or online. These people will attempt to scam you just to get something for free.
There have been times where I win my case against scammers, but the majority of the time, most online reselling apps will side with the buyer. It’s very frustrating and can leave you feeling defeated.
In this post, we’ll discuss the common selling scams you may run into when selling your personal belongings and what you can do to protect yourself from these scams.
Common Selling Scams and What to Do
Here are some tips that I’ve found helpful when it comes to preventing selling scams.
Scam #1: When Someone Doesn’t Want to Pay with Normal Payment Options
You might get a message and the buyer wants to buy with a money order or personal check. Not only that, he wants to mail your payment to you and send their “representative” or “agent” to pick up the item. If anyone offers this arrangement to you, turn the other direction and run far away.
Oftentimes, they will send you a money order or personal check in the amount that is far more than what you are selling your item for. It’s to make the sale more appealing. Too bad the checks are always fake. Once you cash it, all you’re left with are penalties for cashing a fake check. Or even worse, you may get fined or go to jail for trying to scam your banking institution.
What to Do?
We recommend only using payment options that are safe to use. Use a verified payment (ie. PayPal or Venmo) to accept payments. Never accept a personal check or money order.
If you need the cash, we recommend calling the banking institution to verify is a check or money order is real. Never walk away without verifying the payment method.
And lastly, if someone is trying to buy something for more than it’s worth, it’s most likely a scam.
Scam #2: Buyer Swaps Items
One time a buyer purchased a Kate Spade bag from me. When it was delivered, she complained and said that what I sent her was not what was pictured in the listing. I was so confused because I remember sending off the exact item in my listing.
Initially, I felt bad because maybe she thought the item was in better condition than how I described it. I agreed to the return and the item was on its way back to me.
When I received the item back, it was in terrible condition. The strap was splitting and there were scratches everywhere. It was not in the condition that I had sent it. After some back and forth with the CS rep in the selling and buying app (Mercari at the time), they sided with the buyer. I was out money that left with a bag that was useless.
And just so that you’re aware too, never buy anything from this seller: Yasmin Yatzkan from Maryland. Just cancel her order if she buys anything from you. it’s not worth it to take that risk.
What to Do?
After this incident, I record ALL my shipments now. I also send a message to buyers stating the following:
“Thanks for your purchase. I record myself shipping and packaging your purchase so that you know you’re getting the exact item. Enjoy!”
And from that point on, I’ve never had another scammer swap out their purchases.
Scam #3: Buyer Agrees to Meet and Doesn’t Show Up
Never agree to hold onto something for someone. Tell them you are selling it to the first person who actually agrees to buy. Holding items puts you at risk for losing out on selling your item.
If someone wants to buy your item badly, they will find a way to get to you.
What to Do?
If this happens, never give this person another chance. I would remind buyers a few times prior to meeting where to meet and how much to bring. If they confirm, there’s a good chance they are a legitimate buyer.
Scam #4: Seller Didn’t Pay Enough for Postage
This necessarily isn’t a scam, however, it is a huge inconvenience for the seller and buyer. The buyer may need to pay the additional postage or go to the post office to retrieve their package, which is a waste of their time.
If the seller is shipping via USPS, the post office will hold the item and require an additional payment to cover the cost of the package. Some carriers will be nice enough to pay the postage for you and you’ll have to pay them back using the receipt that is left on the package.
What to Do?
Never guess the weight of an item. If you’re off even a few ounces, this can cause your package to be held in the post office for pick-up.
Scam #5: Buyer Wants to Meet in a Sketchy Place
You buyer wants you to drive somewhere unfamiliar to meet them. This is a recipe for disaster. What if they don’t show up? Or what if they decide to hurt you?
What to Do?
Request that the buyer meet you in a public place if possible. We recommend meeting at a Starbucks, bank, department store, big box stores like Walmart or Target, in the mall or a place where there are cameras.
If the person is unwilling, we recommend going with a friend and letting your friends and family know where you are going. Give them the address and as much identifying information as possible.
It’s important to not put yourself in a situation where you’re alone with a stranger. Make sure to bring pepper spray to protect yourself.
#6 The Sob Story
You’ll sometimes get sob stories from people explaining their situation and why you should sell them your item for 80% off the listed price. They’re essentially trying to play on your emotions on order to buy your item for less.
My immediate reaction is like, wow maybe this person shouldn’t buy this if they’re already in this dire of a situation.
What to Do?
Nothing. Seriously. Don’t even entertain these people. They want to con you into giving up your item for less than you want for it. Their situation is not your responsibility.
If you give in, they’ll continue doing it with other sellers.
#7 The Short Changer
This person arrives to buy your item and did not bring enough cash. This is frustrating on all levels because this person is obviously trying to get a better deal.
What to Do?
You can also contact the buyer multiple times and remind them to bring the exact change. Tell them you will not have change and that the price is firm.
When selling or buying something online and something seems off, it’s probably best to pull out of the deal. Be aware of the red flags of buying and selling to protect yourself. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is and you should back out immediately.
When using selling sites and apps, make sure to use them the way they are intended. Follow all the rules on these apps or else you could face suspension or worse, get your account closed.
We hope these tips help keep your buying and selling transactions online safe and secure. Selling is a great way to maximize your income and help you earn money to reach all your financial dreams and goals!