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While summer garage sales are alive and well, many people prefer the convenience of selling their outgrown baby strollers and old gym equipment in online marketplaces. Every day, thousands buy, sell and trade via sites like Craig’sList, Facebook, eBay, EPage, and ClassifiedsGiant. Most of the time, it’s uneventful. However, there is a darker side of internet shopping that tells of the danger of doing business with strangers.
While it may seem obvious to those who’ve had a bad experience, you might be surprised to know that:
- Hundreds of people are robbed, beaten or killed each year during exchanges
- Even public places (like Walmart parking lots and gas stations) are not 100% safe
What is a Safe Trade Zone or Internet Exchange Location?
A safe trade zone or internet exchange location is a place where online buyers and sellers meet, usually located in a police station parking lot. Lately, more local police departments are providing this easy, low cost solution to a common problem.
The idea of meeting in the police parking lot for the added safety is not a new one. Many divorced couples having been meeting in police lots for years for child exchanges, or to review custody schedules and other documents.
Typically there are:
- 24 hour surveillance cameras to monitor the parking lot
- Set hours during which transactions should take place
- No guns, illegal or legal drugs allowed
- Police officers just steps away
Where Can I Find a Safe Trade Zone Near Me?
Do an online search for “Safe Trade Zones near me” or “Where can I find an Internet Exchange Location” and look for local police stations that provide these. You can also visit the Safe Trade program website and look up your home state.
The Safe Trade program began in 2015 and is open to all police departments and LEO organizations. It helps users of online classifieds trade safely, and there is no cost to the stations that choose to use it.
What if I can’t meet up at a Safe Trade Zone?
The Safe Trade program recognizes that selling large furniture or a play structure might not be practical in the police station parking lot. If you can’t meet there, Safe Trade recommends:
- Meet at a police station where you can exchange and photocopy each other’s’ identification papers, such as a driver’s license. Do NOT carry cash to this location.
- Photocopy the license or identification paper, or use your phone to photograph it.
- Email the ID information to a friend, or to someone trusted (not to yourself).
- If you’re selling at home, or going to someone’s home, never be outnumbered. If you’re at home, make sure you have two or three people there — and tell the person who is coming that you will have others with you. There’s some safety in numbers.
- At home or an apartment, NEVER let someone go anywhere unaccompanied. Not even to the bathroom. Always make sure they are escorted.
- Never let more than one group come to your home at one time to buy or sell
No matter where you make a trade or sale, it is never a good idea to make it obvious that you are carrying a large sum of cash, and you should make certain that when you leave you are not being followed.
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