When you look around your house and see a lot of things that you’d like to turn into cash, you can either have a yard sale or put your stuff online. The great thing about online selling is that you don’t have to devote your entire weekend to dealing with the yard sale. Instead, you list the items on the appropriate Website (often an online auction site like eBay) and wait for customers to buy.
Online selling is not quite like selling in person, though. You have to deal with many types of fraud. Bad buyers won’t pay you. Your outgoing packages can be lost in the mail (or so the recipient claims). You have to give out personal information — your return address, for example —to strangers. Because of all this, some people think that selling online is not worth the risk. You can, however, safely sell your stuff on the Internet. These tips will help you make some money without worrying about fraud and other problems.
Read about how the selling site works. Before you sign up or list your first item for sale, you should understand how selling and buying work as well as the site’s policies about various types of fraud and dishonesty. You should know what, if any, recourse you have if something goes wrong. And if you read the information that the site posts for your benefit, you will also have a better idea of how to use the site. This will make it easier for you to create listings, view bids, etc.
Always use tracking numbers or other confirmation services when you ship a package. The United States Post Office offers Delivery Confirmation for less than a buck per package. It’s very difficult to claim that the item never showed up when the USPS tracking number gives the delivery day and time. Be honest about the item’s condition, your return policies and any other information you include in the listing. Otherwise, you could end up eating the cost of return-shipping fees, canceled listings and other such things.
Use a third-party payment system. This is good for buyers because they don’t risk giving you their credit-card numbers. Using one of these services is good for you because you don’t have to worry as much about credit-card fraud and other such problems. You should still, however, pay attention to what is happening. If something seems suspicious don’t hesitate to ask questions and investigate before you accept that bid or ship the package to that winner.
Don’t give out your home or work address. Though most of your buyers are innocent, good buyers, you really don’t have to risk giving away your addresses to somebody who isn’t so nice. Instead, use a post office box. Some, like the ones that you can rent at Mailboxes, Inc or The UPS Store, even let you receive courier packages — like UPS shipments—at that address.
You will probably have to give your credit-card or bank-account number to the selling site to cover fees. If this is the case, you should watch your bank statements. Resolve even the slightest discrepancy before it becomes a full-blown case of identity theft.
Before you finalize the sale, check the buyer’s feedback (if applicable). This is a great way to catch scam artists who have already conned other sellers. Not many honest people want to give you more than what you’re asking for your item. A common scam is to offer the seller a higher price if he or she will ship the product overseas. In reality, the seller gets bogus money orders or other fraudulent payments. In many cases, the seller loses the item: many also have to cover the bad money orders.
Using these safeguards — and common sense — will make sure that you have an enjoyable life as an online seller. Protecting yourself from scammers and bad buyers can take some work, but it’s well worth your time. You’ll be able to get some of your unwanted things out of your home and make a little money without devoting your entire weekend to selling.