Placing a classified advert, whether online or in print, can sometimes attract people running scams, but by following some very simple rules you can stay safe and make sure you sell your bike smoothly.
The majority of people selling their bike never encounter a single problem but it is better to be aware of the problems that may arise so you can recognise them if they do.
The first thing to remember and the golden rule to follow is simply this – If it sounds fishy, then it probably is.
Most scams revolve around you sending money to the buyer in some form or another. If any potential buyer of your bike asks you to send them some money, then step away from the deal.
A typical example of this type of scam is a buyer saying that his friend owes him some money, this friend will send you more than your asking price and you are asked to forward the difference to the buyers account. The cheque you are sent will bounce but your transfer to the buyers account will still go ahead leaving you out of pocket. No one will ever come for the bike.
Another example involves the buyer offering to send you a cheque which includes the shipping cost then, in the same manner as above, you forward the shipping money to the guy that is supposed to be picking up the bike. Again you lose your money.
Genuine buyers are unlikely to ever buy your bike without seeing it first so do not accept any cheques or money orders sent by post. Try to do all deals in person and in cash.
Most scams are also conducted by people pretending to be international buyers. It is very unlikely that someone would ever buy a bike to ship abroad without even looking at it. Be very wary of buyers outside the UK and never send money or part with the bike until funds are cleared in your account.
Ultimately if you suspect that there may be something odd about the deal you are doing, then don’t do it. There will be no way to get your money back as your bank is unlikely to be very sympathetic.
A good set of basic rules to follow are these:
* Never send money to the buyer or a third party in any form
* Don’t accept payment from a third party
* Be very wary of international buyers.
* Never deal with buyers that will only communicate by email
* Never give out your bank account details
* Always meet the buyer
Also when looking to buy a bike or products, be aware that there are websites set up to con people from their cash. You can guard against this by checking the details on the contact page of any website, and also by looking for the registered company address. Alternatively, you can check who a website is registered to by performing a search for the owner, known as a 'whois' search.
A good resource for further reading is the Metropolitan Police’s Fraud Alert site, which goes in to more detail about the various scams about.