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Staying safe when buying or selling online

Eau Claire (WQOW) – Buying and selling items online is easy with Facebook Marketplace, Cragslist, Ebay and more.

But a transaction gone wrong serves as a reminder to stay safe when meeting someone from online in person.

In a recent case in Eau Claire, police say a meetup for an online transaction resulted in property being stolen.

The case is still under investigation, so officials can’t comment on the specific incident, but did offer tips on how to stay safe online, whether buying or selling.

“When you are meeting, it’s important to maybe bring somebody else with you, never meet alone and meet in a public location that both parties are comfortable with, preferably maybe one with some surveillance cameras,” Bridget Coit, Public Information Officer for ECPD, said.

Coit also suggested withholding personal information such as your name, phone number or home address, until right before the transaction.

Avoiding home pick-ups if possible is another way to stay safe – but if necessary, such as with furniture sales, Coit said to make sure someone else is home during the sale.

For large purchases, only accept cashiers checks, and if receiving cash, make sure the bills do not look or feel odd.

Never allow someone inside your home or vehicle, and try to meet in a place with lots of people around – such as a mall or popular restaurant.

Before meeting someone in person, Coit also suggested to do a quick social media search on the buyer or seller, or even look them up on CCAP, Wisconsin’s free record search website.

If selling a vehicle, ask for a copy of the buyer’s license.

Finally, when heading to a meetup, tell someone when and where you will be going, and use an app like Find My Friends to share a location with someone, if there is no one available to accompany the meetup.

McKenna Alexander

McKenna Alexander is the weekend anchor and a multimedia journalist for News 18. She started in June 2019. She was born in San Francisco, but spent the majority of her life growing up in Dallas.

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