Be wary when buying and selling


Life Moments column
By Christine Bryant

For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been cleaning house – getting rid of items we intended to use, but only fulfilled our intentions once or twice.

It was liberating, and we made a few bucks off the sales, using online sites to find a new home for the belongings. Because the items were small in size, we were able to do porch pick-up or an exchange in a common area, like a store parking lot.

Seeing in the news where people have been robbed and worse while finalizing online purchases has remained in the back of my mind, however, leaving me a little worried that the person on the other side of the computer responding to my for sale ad isn’t as nice as she or he looks.

That’s why I was thrilled to see a new offer from the Reynoldsburg Division of Police recently. The department has established an “OfferUp Meetup Spot” in the lobby of its headquarters on East Main Street. The location allows buyers and sellers to finalize online purchases in a well lit public area that is under video surveillance and staffed around the clock.

Though staff will not intervene in disputes regarding the transaction, if there is a safety risk, police are nearby to respond.

The department isn’t alone – the Groveport Police Department also encourages buyers and sellers to use its parking lot during normal business hours, as do local communities like Powell, Marysville and Delaware.

While in most communities the public is invited to use the lobby or parking lot of the police department to engage in safe transactions, there are several other tips buyers and sellers should take to keep safety the No. 1 priority.

According to the Better Business Bureau, buyers and sellers should:

•Set up meetings during daytime hours in a public place. Police departments – especially inside – are considered safe, but restaurants and coffee shops typically have high traffic.

•Consider bringing someone with you if you have safety concerns.

•Walk away if the seller insists you come to his home or apartment, and your instincts are telling you something is wrong.

•Try to avoid carrying large sums of money with you if possible. For large ticket items especially, check to see if there are any businesses in the area that will act as brokers for the online sales. While they will collect a commission on the sale of the items, it helps ensure the safety of both the buyer and seller.

Happy selling and buying!

Christine Bryant is a Messenger staff writer and columnist.

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