Everyone loves a bargain, right? That’s why online classified ad websites like Tonaton.com have become popular shopping destinations among many Ghanaians.
And because Tonaton.com focuses on local listings, is has become a great place to find amazing prices on both new and used items, right in your very own neighborhood.
The majority of transactions initiated through Tonaton.com online classifieds are successful (and uneventful), however, one needs to be careful so that they are not duped by fraudsters.
Here are some common online scenarios which you can keep in mind if you intend to transact business on online classified websites.
Common Online Classified Scams
While virtually any transaction made through a consumer-to-consumer site could involve unscrupulous activities, there are some ‘red flag’ types of transactions that tend to be favored among the criminal types.
Some of the more common, and costly, scams that have been unearthed have involved rental properties, where a fake ‘landlord’ takes deposits from would-be tenants on a property that he or she doesn’t even own. This has been a big problem in hot rental markets, where competition is stiff for rental homes and apartments.
Scams involving fake cashier checks, money transfers, and wire service payments are also well reported, often leaving victims on the hook for thousands of cedis.
Online Classified Safety Tips
With a little know-how and common sense, online classified ads can be a great way to save money and keep unwanted items out of the landfill.
Here’s what you need to know to stay safe:
- If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Always do your research before initiating a transaction so you can know the approximate value of the item you’re buying or selling. If the price is too low on a listing, or if a buyer offers you more than market value, you should be suspicious.
- Always meet in person, in a public space. Tonaton.com recommends that buyers and sellers always meet in a well-lit, public space like a “cafe, bank or shopping center“, and to never invite strangers into your home. It’s also a good idea to bring a friend along, tell someone where you are going, and only complete deals during daylight hours.
- Deal locally, in cash. Don’t buy anything you can’t see in person, and don’t agree to send or post anything to a buyer. Refuse to provide, or accept anything other than cash for payments. If it’s a high-value item like a vehicle, arrange to meet at a bank to exchange the money.
- Search sellers ‘Other Listings’. You can learn a lot about a seller by searching through the other items they have listed, so take the time to check for the same phone number or email address on multiple ads.
- Look for ads with real photos. Genuine ads usually include accurate photos of the actual item, rather than photos that can be copied from other sites on the internet.
- Trust your instincts. Above all else, be sure to trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable, walk away, and if you feel threatened, contact the police.
By using common sense, knowing about the typical scams, and following your instincts, you can protect yourself and your family while buying and selling locally, using online classified sites.