Buying or Selling Online? Tips To Stay Safe


For many years now I’ve been a big fan of selling my used children’s items to recoup at least some of the money spent. With three kids – a boy and two girls – our house has cycled through a lot of baby items, toys, and of course clothing. I’ve used Facebook groups and online buy/sell sites, consignment stores, and twice-yearly large second-hand sales at hockey rinks. Each has their own pros and cons but at the end of the day, money in my pocket and less clutter in my house is always a good thing.

With the recent change to our province’s PST, children’s clothing which had been exempt from PST is now included in your taxable items (along with a 1% hike making your children’s clothing purchases now subject to 6% tax added). Because of this, I predict more parents will look to buying clothing second-hand to save on that PST, as well as selling their own used items to have more money available for new clothing purchases from the mall.

When you post items online, you’re now open to the public. I have never had any scary situations buying or selling items online, in two different cities over the years, but that doesn’t mean everyone has been as fortunate. Here are my tips to stay safe, and they’re worth passing along to a friend as well (you can click the share button on the left to do that, thanks!)

1. Don’t give out personal information about yourself online.

When listing your item, just the basics are needed. Don’t share, “I’m a single mom and am getting rid of a lot of stuff!” No one needs to know that you may be home alone a good portion of your day. Remember this tip when arranging the pick-up of the item, at no point mention that you’re single, your husband works long hours, or you have a dog but it’s a harmless poodle. The person buying the item isn’t your friend and you don’t owe them anything, beyond basic courtesy.

2. At all times, you the seller are in control of the transaction.

If the person seems pushy about the price, asking you to hold the item for a long time until they can pick it up, being aggressive about anything – cut the transaction short. If the person feels ‘off’ or you don’t like the way they’re talking to you, you probably won’t like them face to face either. Listen to your gut. There will be other buyers.

3. If selling from your home, always ensure someone is home with you when the item is picked up. Young kids do not count. A husband, sister, friend or neighbour is essential to your safety and well-being. I’ve had people pick up items when my husband is out of town, so I’ll message my neighbour to let him know and I know he’s nearby if needed.

4. If uncomfortable selling from your home or unable to have someone with you, arrange to meet in a public spot of your choosing.

Inside a restaurant or other location with people present is best. Don’t get into the other person’s vehicle or allow that person into yours, regardless of the weather. A public place isn’t public anymore when you’re in the confined space of a vehicle. I know many people who arrange to meet at a mall food court or inside a coffee shop.

5. Finally, remember that the item you’re selling is yours. The price set is yours. You are in control of the situation.

As women especially, I think we have these weird gene where we feel awful being rude, and being polite or nice seems to overwhelm our common sense sometimes (think about the last time someone was aggressive with you while purchasing a large ticket item; women often smile and try and politely excuse themselves from a situation rather than calling out bad behavior on a salesperson. I’m not that girl!) If the situation feels weird, if the person is giving your spidey senses a nudge, put an end to the transaction whether you’re chatting online (stop the email/text discussion and return back an hour later saying whoops, it’s sold) or in public (leave, make a phone call, or engage a business owner or manager, if at any point you’re not feeling OK).

An overwhelming majority of online transactions are flawless and profitable, and people can find a huge selection of second-hand or new items at a discount shopping online. Selling your unwanted items is a great way to put money back in your pocket, keep items out of the landfill, and claim back your household space.


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