Post a Note is your hangout; a place where it is free to connect with thousands of like-minded locals to buy, sell, and swap. To ensure that your experience on the site remains positive, we’re working hard to protect your safety. One way we filter out “spammers” is that we require sellers to “certify” their fist listing. If their email address is not legitimate, their listing will never show on the site. New postings are also regularly checked for errors or misleading information.
This blog post aims at giving you tools to protect yourself from scammers. We will introduce the most common spammer profiles:
- Mr. Catch Me If You Can
On most buy/sell websites you may come across users who pretend to be local, but are, in reality, located elsewhere. Often, you can’t tell if this is the case, and not all buy/sell sites block foreign IP addresses. Scammers might also use VPN to create fake “local” IP addresses to gain access. So, beware that not all “local” users are indeed “local.”
- Ms. Identity Thief
Identity Thieves are scammers who require you to reveal sensitive personal information, such as your bank account number, home address, etc. Beware of these scammers and don’t give out information that is not relevant for the transaction. In essence, only your phone number and email address should matter so you can arrange a day and time to meet up in person to complete the transaction. Another tip is to meet at public spaces to avoid having to give out your home address.
These are probably the most common scammer profiles and while you may never come across a scammer, it’s still good to be aware that they exist.
Tips for Protecting Yourself
While Post a Note has a good security net in place, it is not directly involved in transactions. Therefore, we would like to offer you some tips that will minimize your risk of becoming a victim of scammers. Below please find some precautions that you can take:
1) Deal and Meet Locality
We think that a personal meeting is always better than sending items by mail. This is one reason why our site is not an e-commerce site but rather resembles an online community board. A personal meeting allows personal interactions between buyers and sellers, and minimize risk.
2) Call Me Maybe
If the seller (or buyer) refuses to call you or give out their phone number, they might be trying to hide something. It is always good to go over some details on the phone before meeting in person.
3) Take Your Time
If a seller/buyer is pushy, and you feel like you’ll have to make a quick decision, you might want to back out of the deal. Sellers who give you the chance to “sleep over it” are generally more trustworthy than those requiring you to decide on the spot. Buyers who seem to almost throw their cheque at you before having inspected the item should also be handled with caution. Especially if you’re selling an expensive item, you may want to refuse cheques and insist on cash. You won’t be able to tell if the cheque is valid or will bounce.
4) Keep Your Personal Information… Personal
You may be comfortable sharing your email address or phone number with potential buyers or sellers. However, you should refrain from sharing other personal information, such as details about your bank account, home address, etc. A rule of thumb is: Any information that you would not post on an offline community board, should also not be shared online or via email.
5) Don’t Stalk Me — I Stalk You
If you are accessing a listing via Google Chrome, your chances of identifying potential scammers just got easier. Why? Because often scammers download the pictures for their listings from the internet.
Here’s the trick: Right-click on the image. In the drop-down menu you’ll see “Search Google for this Image.” If Google finds the exact same image in its database, click on the link and see where it takes you.
If your stakes are high because you are interested in buying/selling an expensive item, you may want to google the seller/buyer to see if there are any scam reports related to that name. Often, scammers use the same or similar names, because there’s less risk of getting caught in a lie, if they keep their message consistent.
6) Know Thy Seller/Buyer
When you’re emailing or calling the seller/buyer before the first meeting, take this as an opportunity to establish trust. Ask some questions about which area of town they’re living in, why they’d like to sell or buy the item, etc. If you still don’t trust them, you’re free to ask for recommendations.
7) If It’s Too Good to Be True, It Probably Is
I guess this one does not require an explanation. Just listen to your intuition and stay away from sellers/buyers that set of your “alarm.”
If you see any suspicious activity on the site, please use the “mark as” function in the right upper corner of the suspicious post to inform us immediately. And in that sense: Thanks for being part of the team!
Happy Posting / Shopping!
Your Post a Note Team
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net