Tips to Stay Safe Selling Online


A recent, and terrifying story has hit the media in Regina this week. A young woman was kidnapped and assaulted after meeting someone regarding the sale of a phone. It’s terrifying, puzzling, and infuriating all at once.

Being the frugal mom I am, selling products in garage sales, consignment sales and online is something I’m fluent in so much so that when we do a bedroom or toy room purge the kids ask, “Can we sell this?” because they understand that even though we’re not using something, there’s still value in it. We also donate many items too, which are sorted into a donate pile as we clean (check out this post on Tips for Saving Money in 2015 which shares more details).

While the public doesn’t know all the details of the recent incident in Regina, it seems to me that for the most part the victim took precautions to keep herself safe, and in no way should she be blamed one bit for the horrific actions of the person charged. That’s the scary part, you can follow safety measures and yes, something can still go wrong.

My tips for buying/selling online are below, and I shared some of them this week with David Kirton on Saskatoon Afternoon (click to listen to the podcast):

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, holding the item for a time they can pick it up not allowing you to sell it to someone else, 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. There will be other buyers.

3. If selling from your home, always ensure someone is home with you when the item is picked up. 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 – he putters around in his yard and I know he’s nearby if needed. I’ve had girlfriends over when selling items out the door (great discussions happen later about the value in a snowsuit worn one season, an example from last weekend!)

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.

If selling items yourself makes you nervous, or you don’t have the time to do so (listing, answering questions and arranging the transaction can take a significant amount of time if you’re selling more than a few items), consider a spring/fall consignment sale (local organizations typically hold these twice a year) or take your children’s clothing and items to a local consignment store. Stores typically take 60% of the profit leaving you with 40%, but it’s money in your pocket for very little time and effort. Seasonal consignment sale splits vary.


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  • Wonderful tips! Kijiji is such a great place to sell items and make a little cash, but it definitely can come with some risks!

    I have certainly come across my share of rude folks !

    • My newest favorite as I am selling some items online: Asking for half price AND for me to deliver it to their home… hahah That is ballsy! 😛

  • Great read! Wether your the buyer or seller its always a good idea to be safe and have a plan of action.

  • Thank you for some great tips! I have never tried Kijiji but my son uses it. I guess I am nervous that someone could take advantage of me at the house 🙂

  • Great article! I think it’s a good idea to never be alone when you are making a transaction with a buyer or seller. Too many horror stories out there.

  • Those are great tips! I personally don’t like selling on kijiji. You always hear bad stories from it but I do think it’s an easier way to sell. Happy selling & buying everyone!

  • Thanks! I do lots of buying/selling online and safety is always a good reminde.r Another ti – when you sell a car do teh entire transaction at teh bank. That way you can ensure money is legit.

  • These are great tips! As someone who loves to have “garage sales” with items I no longer need on Kijiji, I follow a good portion of these tips already. Especially ensuring to meet someone in a public space and let someone know where you are going to meet them.

  • great tips, I NEVER post my phone number on any ads when selling things, I will put my email so they can contact me, Kijiji can be a scary place to sell things, I hear alot of weirdos hang out there

  • Thank you for some great tips! I have never tried Kijiji but my sister uses it but i do sell on other sites in my area and when i sell something i only chose a tme that hubby is home to greet them with their purchase.

  • All awesome tips!! There was a lady selling puppies down here in my town and she had a young couple make an appointment to go and see them, well when the couple got there, they were welcomed into the home and then they threatened her with a knife and stole all the puppies, some people nowadays!!!

  • Great post! You can never be too safe. When selling items I always meet at the mall food court. This way I have a way out as well as there are cameras everywhere! Thanks for the tips!

  • Yes you definitely have to be careful. I have yet to try selling anything online, have heard way to many bad stories. I still sell using word of mouth through friends/family.

  • Very good tips there. I know a few years ago a man was selling his truck and ended up being kidnapped and killed. You have to be so careful when advertising something for sale because you never know what the other person’s intentions might really be. Don’t say too much about yourself.

  • I periodically try to sell stuff online and these tips are handy. There are so many that try to take advantage of you.

  • Those are some great tips/reminders. I sell a lot of stuff on craigslist, and whenever I have an “off” feeling about somebody I cut off the transaction right away. Better safe than sorry, I prefer to wait for a good buyer rather than deal with a risky one.

  • Great tips! Especially having some one at home when they come to pick it up. I’m guilty of forgetting this tip!

  • Good tips. I used to sell and trade toys on Kijiji frequently, and never had a problem. It’s scary to hear that sometimes things go wrong so terribly.

  • I have met a lot of wonderful people from selling on Kijiji. But I’ve also had some suspicious-type phone calls where the buyer wants to come to the house very late at night, etc so my instincts have kicked in & I’ve denied the sale based on a bad feeling. But you can’t just solely rely on a gut feeling, sometimes our instincts are wrong & anything can happen. These safety tips are a must to implement.

  • Thanks for the excellent and valuable tips on this important safety concern. I have a lot of experience (mostly good) with online selling. My husband is in the restaurant business and solicitous vendors (mostly selling wine & liquor) often give him tickets to concerts, the theater and sporting events that we have no interest in. Sometimes they are worth as much as a couple of hundred dollars at face value. Though we advertise of Craigslist ~it always comes down to at least one phone conversation and then an actual meeting. I sometimes arrange to meet at a nearby shopping mall food court ~ but sometime they come to our home and I always meet them on our front porch ~ with a friend or neighbor if my husband is at work.

    Most of the time I find that the screening process you can do during a phone conversation (using common sense and your natural instincts / intuition) is usually pretty accurate. If you get any kind of bad vibe/ sense ~ trust if and go with it! Like you say: better safe than sorry and ultimately you will find the right buyer.

  • I really like this post. It’s very helpful and you give great points to consider when I sell something. I am in control of what I am selling but sometimes I feel pressured when I sell things online.

  • Those are great tips! Lots of people or selling and buying things through listings now so its important to put safety first when making these sales.