Meeting an online seller in person? Here are some safety tips
Photo: Frederick Street, Port of Spain is a busy area in downtown Port of Spain. The Police Service advises that meeting in busy areas or near a police station can help make sales safer, if meeting someone you do not know.
Buying something online? If you’re meeting the seller in person, you can never be too careful.
In fact, meeting at the police station, if making a transaction involving large sums of cash, is a viable option according to the police.
ASP Michael Jackman, Public Relations Officer at the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS), said if purchasing an item which requires a large sum of money, meeting at a police station or in an area of safety is a better option.
“You can never be too safe when carrying out transactions in person. You must consider your personal safety above anything else,” Jackman said.
In recent months there have been several incidents of robberies involving online sales, including one man who met the seller in Port of Spain to hand over a deposit for a vehicle for sale.
However the meeting turned sour after the man was robbed of his $5,000 deposit.
Here are a few tips for safety when meeting online sellers in person:
1. Examine their online profiles
Check a seller’s online profile to see whether the account might be fake or suspicious. It also can’t hurt to run a Google search to see what pops up.
If in any doubt, do not go through with the transaction.
2. Only meet in safe, crowded, public spaces
Meeting for the transaction should never be done alone or in an isolated spot. Ensure your transaction takes place in a crowded area and take friends or relatives with you.
You might even want to have a backup ‘emergency’ relative standing some distance away, who can contact the police if anything suspicious takes place.
Still not safe? Take it to the police station. According to the police it is fine to make your transaction near your local police station to ensure nothing goes awry.
3. Don’t use cash if possible
Many local online sellers ask for cash, however, ask if there’s the option for online payment. Alternatively, you can issue a manager’s cheque.
Paypal payments, bank transfers and more can now be done online or via a mobile phone app, so exercise these options.
If the seller refuses, suggest to them that this method may result in better consumer confidence and more sales.
Alternatively, if it’s a high-cash transaction, do it at a bank.
4. Tell relatives where you’re going
Make sure your close friends/relatives know where you’ll be and have them ready to respond if needed.
Have your mobile phone ready to contact the police if needed.
5. Never give out personal information
If needed, use a secondary email address and never give out your personal addresses or contact information.
6. Stay safe with online payments
Paying via the internet? Paying by credit card offers greater protection against fraud than with other methods
Double check all details of your payment before confirming.Before entering payment card details on a website, ensure that the link is secure, in two ways:
There should be a padlock symbol in the browser window frame, which appears when you attempt to log in or register. Be sure that the padlock is not on the page itself ... this will probably indicate a fraudulent site.
The web address should begin with ‘https://’. The ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’.
For more information about personal safety online, check out these resources: