Swap site safety tips: Suggestions from the experts to protect buyers and sellers

Posted at 5:17 PM, Mar 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-12 09:26:25-04

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WXYZ) — Spring is just around the corner and it’s a great time to redecorate or buy a new rain coat and with so many swap sites in your community this may be the way to go.

Though most swap sales are on the up and up, there are few swindlers out there. We talked to the experts on what to watch out for when you’re buying and selling on social apps and how to protect yourself from being ripped off.

Swap sites like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist and OfferUp are great ways to shop locally for used goods.

Whether you want to make a few bucks or find a great deal, trust is a big part of the transaction.

Our first lesson, porch pick-up. The least expensive items on these sites often sold using this method.

Porch pick up sales are based on the honor system. You put the money in a designated place and then take the item.

But these swaps have seen their fair share of creative crooks

“The people will come and pick up the item, but they won’t leave the money, or it’ll be a $20 item and they’ll only leave $10,” according to Janie Higgins administrator of Macomb County Furniture and Home Décor Swap page.

After seeing reports with porch pick up and other problems Higgins and her friend started a second page: Swapping one hundred and one, a page to report bad swappers.

The page also monitors people that sell inferior products to unsuspecting buyers. This is warning number two…

“They’ll pick the product up and they go home and look at it and it’s broken or it’s not what they said it was going to be,” said Higgins.

Higgins also says one of the biggest scams is when buying a smart phone—always exercise due diligence.

Go to the service provider to make sure the phone you’re looking to buy is transferable.

“Because some people sell a stolen phone, once you give them the money for the phone, they find out the phone is stolen, you can’t use it, you just wasted your money,” said Higgins.

If you’re not a Facebook Marketplace user, maybe a mobile driven app like offer up is better for you.

Sarah Parker is head of OfferUp’s community safety team. The next lesson stick with the three P’s when setting up a sale.

“Really understanding the person, really understanding the place, and really understanding the product you’re engaging on,” said Parker.

Parker adds there is always a new scam out there so look out for these red flags….

“Anybody that’s trying to take you off our app.” said Parker. “Somebody that gives you their cell phone and wants you to text them separately.”

And the 3rd red flag is if the person asks you to email them.

Any of these could be a way for them to try to get a hold of your personal info.

You can report it directly inside the app while you’re engaging with the user.

Bottom line, most of these transactions are legit but if there is any hesitation

“Report it! Hands down report it!” said Parker.

"Trust is the most valuable commodity for an online marketplace and it’s easy to lose," said Parker.

Remember, the best place to handle these transactions is at your local police department. Click here to check out the website