Savvy shoppers know sometimes the best way to get a deal on a coveted item is to buy it gently used. People have been buying online using websites like Craigslist and others for years, but more and more, they're using Facebook.
They said it's all because of horror stories like a Georgia couple murdered after trying to buy a vintage car, or the Colorado woman whose baby was cut out of her after answering a Craigslist ad for baby items.
They're deadly stories that are tough to forget. That's why Julia Goodman, who said she loves to get a good deal, has turned to Facebook.
"I've bought shoes, I've sold jewelry, an aquarium and a stand and I've sold lots of clothes," Goodman said.
There are local Facebook groups for buying and selling just about anything you can think of. Goodman said once she realized she could use the social media website to do all that, she dove right in.
"You have to actually join in order to participate and see all the different things that are being sold, or the things that people are searching for," Goodman said. "I stumbled across it somehow and instantly I got hooked."
Lisa Jero is an administrator for a Facebook group and she says from an admin's perspective, Facebook is a whole lot safer.
"You can't put a face with Craigslist, you can't put a general location with where they are," said Jero. "For example, before I add people to a group, I look to see if they're in Central Florida, or if they have anything crazy on their wall."
She said those kinds of precautions are meant to help keep people safe.
"I don't care if you're hungry, I don't care if you're wanting to buy a Michael Kors purse -- your safety is the most important thing," Jero said.
Just because you can see a little bit more about people doesn't mean you should let your guard down.
Jero and Goodman both recommend that if you're buying on any online site, no matter what you think you about about the buyer or seller:
- Don't go anywhere at night
- Make sure you meet in a public place
- If you're planning on having someone pick up a large or big ticket item at your own house, make sure you're not alone
- In many cases, you can actually meet in the parking lots of local law enforcement offices
"You really have to use your head," said Goodman. "It could be just as dangerous as any other site that you would go to."
To help protect yourself if you are considering a transaction with a Facebook Group, here are some steps to take:
- In any given group, administrators will be listed. You can send them a private message to check and see if there is anyone you should be on the look out for or if there is anything you should know about.
- If you experience a bad transaction, you can let them know. Often, they'll warn other people in the group.
- Once you're in the group and ready to begin buying or selling, administrators said one of the biggest things to look out for are fake profiles. They said people who have fake profiles often (but not always) use cartoons or celebrity photos in place of regular profile pictures.