Buying or selling online? Here's how to do it safely

Buying or selling online? Here's how to do it safely
Detective Angela Sherman (Source: WALB)
Detective Angela Sherman (Source: WALB)
Buying and selling online (Source: WALB)
Buying and selling online (Source: WALB)

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Whether you're looking for some holiday gifts or hoping to make some money by selling items you no longer want, many of us go online to do so.

But how can you make sure you're making those transactions safely?

Albany police arrested a man after he notified multiple online sellers that he'd like to purchase their vehicles, but when it came time for the transaction, he would ask to take a test drive, and drive off in the vehicles without paying.

So how do you prevent this from happening? If you're planning to buy or sell something on Facebook or any other website, you're not alone.

"They're trying to get deals.  Save money," said APD Detective Angela Sherman.

Thousands and thousands of people post their items here on Facebook's Marketplace.  That's just one of the many sites people use to find bargains.

You can search around your area to see what's for sale near you, and when you find something you like, you can message the seller.

But this can lead to potential scams.

"It happens more often than people realize," said Detective Sherman.  "They don't think there are that many scammers out there, but you have to watch out during the holidays."

Just this week, Albany Police arrested Tyler Mills charging him with multiple counts of motor vehicle theft because of what detectives say he did to sellers he met through Facebook.

Police said Mills would request to purchase motor vehicles for sale, he would meet the sellers, ask to take a test drive, then drive off in the vehicles.

"This particular person that was taking motor vehicles, he was going towards people who were from out of town, didn't know the area, things of that nature.  They didn't know about the safe zones," said Detective Sherman.

Detective Sherman is talking about their Safe Exchange Zones, located right beside the Law Enforcement Center.

The area is designated for situations such as safe transactions from online sales.

"We have places where you can park and meet people," said Detective Sherman.

Other steps you can take to make sure you're not taken advantage of? If you're a seller, make sure you have the proper documentation of the items you're selling to prove your ownership.  Also, bring someone along with you for the transaction.

Detective Sherman also said to never tell a buyer where you live, or have a transaction at your home.

And if you're a buyer, never give the seller your credit card information over the phone or online, and never provide your Social Security number or birth date.

Detective Sherman also suggested staying local when buying so you're in a familiar place.

There are multiple safe zones around the LEC that you can utilize for similar transactions.

Detective Sherman suggested using them during the day, and not at night.

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