Safety precautions when buying or selling

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Fact of life: There are all sorts of scams and dishonest people in the world. Here are some ways to minimize the impact they may have on your life. Some of this advice is geared to sellers and some to buyers; mix & match.

You may not want to bring people you don't know into your home. If they end up buying the bike, they'll know your address anyway, as it's on the title. But people who come to look may not necessarily be there to look at your bike. They could be looking at what you have to steal, what kinds of security/locks/precautions have been made, etc.... It has happened that people were burglarized after showing things they had for sale. There have also been instances where people will offer an item they don't even possess, ask you to bring cash to the meet, and then mug you.

You might want to consider some of these options:

  • Pick a place to meet that affords you some measure of comfort. The parking lot of the local police station, for instance, should have cameras and people going in and out frequently, not to mention the officers. Anyone up to no good will think twice about your meeting point.
  • If you're not comfortable with carrying cash, tell them to meet at your bank's parking lot. Again, lots of cameras, very public, and you can walk in and obtain the cash and do the title transfer on-site. The money can even be sent electronically to their bank account, so they don't have to carry it with them. As a bonus, the bank staff can help you with a witness or notary if one's needed, and we suggest having a witness for a bill of sale.
  • Buying and selling often involves being able to judge a person. If you're not comfortable for any reason, trust your instincts. That doesn't mean you have to abandon the sale - it just means you need to enlist help from someone to assist with the part where you have no confidence. This might involve finding a mechanic to inspect the bike so you know what it is you're getting. Sometimes it might be bringing along someone who's had more dealings with private party sales. And if you're selling, don't be insulted if a prospective buyer shows up with his/her dad or friend who asks questions and tries to make sure you're legit.
  • If you can't get someone to agree to meet at a bank or the police department, but they still seem legitimate, tell them that you will not be able to bring cash to the first meeting. Tell them you want to check the title, check the VIN, and see the bike first. At least you'll know that the bike exists before risking your money or your life.

Craigslist scams

There are lots of Craigslist scams out there. Here are a couple ways to avoid some of them while selling.

First of all, the Craigslist site states: NEVER GIVE OUT FINANCIAL INFORMATION (bank account number, social security number, eBay/PayPal info, etc.). Here is a link that will tell you more:

Here are some specific things to watch for from some of our members:

Don’t take Paypal. There’s no reason to for a local sale. Anyone wanting to Paypal you may be up to no good, such as stealing your account info.

Never use the same email address for Craigslist as you do for eBay or Paypal. You can set up a separate email account that you use only for Craigslist at any of the online email providers (Gmail, Hotmail, etc.).

Ask for a phone number with any reply emails, and delete any that don’t include their phone number. Sample ad intro:

  • If this ad is up, the (insert name of item) is still available. To prevent spam and scam, all emails without a phone number will be deleted without reply or consideration.

Beware of anyone using more than one email address. If you receive an email from someone and it has one name and email address in the From line, but when you reply to the email it changes who the email is going to, it’s a scammer. The first thing to do when you receive an email from someone wanting information about the item you have up for sale is to hit reply. If the contact names don't match up, don’t reply, and then immediately delete their email.

Beware of any language or wording that doesn’t sound quite right. They may be using a form scam letter and modifying it to fit your particular item. If it sounds hinky, be suspicious.