Local online marketplaces such as Facebook Marketplace can be a handy tool. They can be used to find bargains on various items or to make some money on items you no longer need. But how do you make sure that you aren't being conned? These tips can help.

How do you make sure that you aren't being conned? These tips can help.

If You Are Buying:

  • Research the item. Determine what price it sold or sells for new. If used, what are the asking prices from other sellers on this and other sites.

  • Ask the seller how old it is, the condition it is in, and if anything is wrong with it.

  • Check out the seller:

  • Posting on a local board but not living in the area is a red flag.

  • On Facebook Marketplace, do they have lots of friends or just a few? Many scammers have only a few friends. If they have lots of friends, do the names seem made up?

  • On other services do they have a good rating? Read any reviews that are available.

  • Do a reverse image search of their profile picture. If it comes up with another name, that's another red flag. Don't do business with them.

  • Do a reverse image search of the item for sale. Some scammers take pictures from other listings or sites.

  • Once you contact the seller, if they seem indecisive such as changing their mind about selling, raising the price, or slow to return your message, then stop the transaction.

If You Are Selling:

  • Price the item appropriately. Check what other sellers are asking for the item.

  • If the item is brand new, still in the box, don't ask for the full price you paid, discount it a little.

  • Provide proof. In addition to a picture of the item, include receipts, close up of labels, appraisal letters, and pictures that show its condition.

Buyers and Sellers:

  • Once you've agreed to the purchase, you need to arrange for collection and payment.

  • Always meet in a safe public location—one that's busy with other people around. Some police departments provide an "exchange" spot in their parking lots. Even if they don't, their parking lot may still be a good location.

  • Never go alone. Always take someone with you.

  • Exchange the money and item at the same time. Smart sellers accept only cash or a cashier's check. For a large sum of money, you may want to meet at your bank, so that you can deposit the money immediately.

Local online marketplaces can be a good way to help your budget whether you are buying or selling as long as you are cautious, do your homework, and ask questions.