The Utica Police Department is reminding consumers to be cautious when buying and selling items online during the holiday season.

Many of us are getting a jump on the holiday season by shopping online - sometimes from local sellers on Facebook Marketplace or Craig's List. Buying items from online sources can save you some money, but it can also make you vulnerable to scammers.

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The Utica Police Department is reminding buyers that on Facebook or Craig's List, "strangers can hide behind a screen name and anonymity" which means sellers or buyers can be less than honest and get away with it.

The UPD is offering their parking lot as a meeting place for item and cash exchanges, to protect both buyers and sellers.

"While our lobby remains closed during COVID, our parking lots are open, well lit, and are covered by surveillance."

The police also offer the following advice:

  • Do everything you can to verify the authenticity of your purchase if paying online,
  • verify the identity of the person whom you are exchanging with prior to your interaction.

CNET.com offers some further tips for avoiding Facebook Marketplace scams:

  • Don't deal with wishy washy sellers.
  • Always exchange money and goods at the same time - don't pay in advance for an item, and don't accept 'payments' for an item you've already handed off
  • Research the seller. Look to see how many friends you have in common, do they actually live in your area? You can also do a reverse-image search of the item on Google. If the image appears elsewhere, you could be dealing with a scammer.

 

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