Selling Locally On Facebook Marketplace: A Safety Guide

April Killian

Whether you're looking to earn some extra cash or simply want to declutter and don't want the hassle of packing and shipping items, selling locally on Facebook Marketplace or through local Facebook sales groups can be a great way to make it happen. For large items that would be expensive and hard to ship, selling locally is a great opportunity, too. Friends and family are a great place to start - but what if you want to sell to the general public in your area? There's always a risk involved in meeting complete strangers. So, how do you safely meet for local sales? Here are a few tips and guidelines that I've gathered as a seller, myself, that will help you stay safe while selling locally.

Location

If you are arranging to meet someone, always meet in a public place - never an isolated area. Makes sure it's a public place where people are usually present,. The parking lot of a local discount store that's always busy with customers coming in and out, a local park that stays busy, a shopping center parking lot, or a nearby popular restaurant can be a good place. Make sure when setting up your meeting that you give a clear description of your vehicle and get a description of the person's vehicle you are meeting. That way you won't mistakenly approach the wrong person. Make sure you park in a visible area close to where customers would normally park, too. Remember, that someone is much less likely to try something sneaky where lots of people are present. Never agree to meet behind a business or too far away from the front door or busiest area.

Home Pickup

Sometimes it's just not possible to carry an item with you in your vehicle to meet a customer. With arge items such as furniture or appliances, having the buyer pickup from your home is usually the routine. Be careful about inviting someone to your home. If the buyer has to come inside, don't be alone - especially if you are a female. Wait until your spouse is home if you are married or invite a friend or neighbor over if you live alone. Some sellers are doing "porch pickup" where they leave the item on their porch and a box where the buyer leaves the money. Actually, a lot of sellers are doing this now. Just don't leave an expensive item out for this kind of pickup - never leave a cell phone or jewelry, for example. Those are two of the most stolen items from online sellers who sell locally.

Time

As a rule, I generally try to arrange my pickups during the day or early evening before dark. While this is easy in the summertime, it can be a little tricky in the winter months when the days are shorter. If you do have to meet after dark, make sure it's in a well lighted area and follow the guidelines above for the location. Personally, I have a cut off time of 7:30 - 8:00 pm for pickups and I never meet in the parking lot of a local business after they are closed. Doing that can leave you in a vulnerable position with no one around.

Avoid Grab and Go Situations

Be especially careful selling and meeting for small high ticket items. Don't hand over the item to a person sitting in a running car. A lot of grab and go cases happen this way. This is how it goes: the buyer pulls up either close to your vehicle or close to you. They don't get out of their vehicle and usually don't even put it in park. They get you to hand over the item as if they are about to purchase it or inspect it and then....VROOM! They take off without paying.

Know who you are dealing with

Check out the person's buyer/seller ratings on FB on their commerce profile. Although some people keep their ratings private - it can be a good way to see who you are dealing with if they are visible. Also, check out their regular FB profile. See if you have any friends in common and see if they are actually local. If it looks like a fake profile, it probably is...beware. Fake profiles, profiles that are brand new, and ones with no profile photos are a big red flag. These accounts are often created specifically to rip off sellers.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

My dad was a police investigator by career and this is something he always told me - and good advice I've carried over into my local sales. When meeting a customer, scan your environment. Be aware of anyone lurking around. Be aware of who you're meeting and what they look like. Are they alone? Do they have several people in their vehicle and do they all get out to meet you? This could be a bad situation. Many people have been robbed this way. Keep your head up and off your phone and just be aware.

Trust your gut.

If something seems "off" about the sale or with the buyer, just cancel it. No sale is worth being ripped off or worse. Don't ignore any "red flags." You may regret it.

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Safe ZoneApril Killian

Use Designated Safe Zones

Check to see if your local police department has an internet purchase point or other "safe exchange" area. Many police departments have designated areas in their parking lots for child visitation pickups and have also made those areas available for internet sales. In my city of Florence, Alabama, our police department has such an area that is monitored 24/7. The very few times I have had "red flags" pop up with a new customer, I told them that the police parking lot was my meeting point. With two of those buyers, I never heard from them again. That could have just been a coincidence or it could have saved me from a bad situation.

For buying on Marketplace, the same safety rules apply. It's never a bad idea to think of your safety first. One search of the internet will bring up dozens of incidents where someone was robbed, hurt, or sadly murdered during what should have been a simple buyer/seller transaction. In May of 2022, a Mississppi woman was shot and killed when she went to meet a seller to buy a cell phone.

I've been selling online for over 17 years on Ebay and shipping items all over the world. When Facebook Marketplace and local selling groups were created, I saw a great opportunity to sell more things in my area. In doing so, I've met some of the most wonderful people in my town and made lifelong friends. The bulk of my local sales, without question, has been positive - but, I've always been very careful and trusted my gut on each sale. I hope that everyone who tries local selling has a great experience like I have had. My tips and pointers above cover just a few of the safety guidelines that I have followed over the years - but I'm sure I've left some out. Do you sell locally and have some advice to add? I would love to see other seller's tips it in the comment section! Remember - it helps us all to help each other!

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April Killian is a native of Florence, Alabama and writes about her home state of Alabama and the Shoals area. She is the mom of many pets and 3 adult children. Along with writing, she sells vintage items online and conducts estate sales in her area. She is a lifelong supporter of charity work, loves life, and tries to be a positive force in this world in everything she does! Her writing passions include: family and social issues, nature, humor, the paranormal and anything interesting or weird! Click on "follow" to see more of her articles in the future!

Florence, AL
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