Buying and selling second hand is a great way to reduce waste by prolonging the life of materials. From thrift stores to garage sales to all of the online listing sites, there are plenty of places to look for that patio table or another pair of jeans. However, while there are people that just want to get rid of their old stuff, there are also scammers, so here's a few tips to make sure you're staying safe when you're considering buying an item through a site like Craig's List, Facebook or NextDoor.   

Tips for Community Sales Web Platforms

--Be selective of the personal information you are giving out. If possible, try to keep conversations within the system you are using rather than giving out your personal e-mail or phone number.

--Don't put your credit card or bank account information online unless it is through a secure system like PayPal. If possible, do not send money until you have seen and obtained the item.

--When meeting up for a purchase, avoid using your home residence. Meet in a public space where other people will be around like a grocery store or mall parking lot where there is high visibility, good lighting, and quick access to help if needed. The Vancouver Police Department is now offering their parking lots as Safe Exchange Zones.* The Police and Sheriff personnel will not assist in any transactions. Gun sales are prohibited. Safe Zones are for person-to-person transactions do not leave items unattended. Sellers must take items with them if the buyer does not show up or decides not to buy.

--If possible, don't meet someone alone. Take a friend or family member with you.

--Have the correct amount of cash or whatever payment method you are using ready but in a secure place like in your purse or pocket until it is time.

--Never accept food or drink from strangers, especially if it is open or homemade.

--When looking at an item, make sure that it works and that all of the parts are there before you buy it.

--Always thank the seller for taking the time to meet with you! They have their own lives and schedules just like you! Some platforms allow you to rate your experience with the person so that others can tell if they are a reliable seller or buyer in the future. Take a few moments to do that and also look at these ratings when you are looking to meet up with someone.

--If you are the seller, take down your listings after the item has been sold and put your income in a secure location right away.

--Most of these transactions do not have a refund or insurance policy. However, if you have been scammed or felt unsafe during a meet up, be sure to report the incident and person to the authorities in charge of the platform you are using. If applicable, take and attach photos, audio files, or snapshots of the conversation with the report.

*Locations for Safe Exchange Zones:

Vancouver Police Administration (605 E. Evergreen Blvd., Vancouver, WA)

Vancouver Police West Precinct (2800 NE Stapleton Rd., Vancouver, WA)

Vancouver Police East Precinct (512 SE 155th Ave., Vancouver, WA)

Clark County Sheriff's West Precinct (505 NW 179th St., Ridgefield, WA)