Purchasing items like vehicles and collectables on the internet can be a great way to save money, but there are a few considerations that keep in mind to help keep your money-saving venture from turning sour.
1. Understand as Much as Possible About the Auction or Purchase Platform
Each online purchasing outlet can have slightly different rules. Some platforms require a time limit for each item up for sale while others have “buy now” functions that allow you to circumvent the clock. Others have no official bid system at all and allow you to communicate with the seller to negotiate your own agreement. Knowing the differences between platforms can help you save time, money and hassle.
2. Never Give Out Detailed Personal Info
While it’s common to share information like a mailing address or phone number, you should never be asked to share items like a social security or bank account number. Any seller asking for this type of information should immediately raise a red flag.
3. Do Your Background Work
Do a cursory internet search for the seller’s name and address. If you’ve exchanged telephone numbers, give their number a quick call to make sure it’s legit.
4. Know What’s Included
Some internet purchases may include a warranty or guarantee; others may or may not include shipping costs in the purchase price. When dealing directly with a seller, be sure that these common contract items are ironed out before sending any type of payment.
5. Keep Good Records
Be sure to keep copies of any written or email correspondence until you both agree that the contract has been fulfilled. It’s also helpful to use these records to refer back to should there be any confusion as to which party has agreed to complete various tasks.
6. Be Cautious of International Transactions
Any seller who resides in another country should be treated with extra caution. Consider using an online escrow company or other neutral third party to ensure an extra layer of protection.
7. Know Your Good’s Fair Price
Prices for used goods can vary greatly from item to item, so be sure to consult a subject matter expert or reputable source to familiarize yourself with pricing. Kelley Blue Book and the American Gem Society are examples of two entities that can help with pricing information.
8. If it Seems Too Good to be True, it Probably is
This seems like a simple adage that your grandparents would repeat over and over, but it should raise an eyebrow when you see goods dramatically underpriced or in quantities that seem unreal.
9. Report Anything Suspicious Immediately
The Internet Crime Complaint Center should be the first stop for anyone who believes they may be a victim of online fraud and is a partnership organization of both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National White Collar Crime Center.