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Buying and selling apps can replace yard sales, but they have risks

Apps reach a wider audience, and can bring in more money
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Posted at 6:00 AM, Jul 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-13 07:04:06-04

Summer is the time of year many of us want to get rid of unwanted items, or shop for used home goods and back-to-school clothing. It used to be that the best way to buy and sell unwanted stuff was by throwing or visiting a local yard sale.

These days, whether you're selling a few items or buying something used to save cash, online marketplaces are more and more popular because they are easy and convenient.

Yard sales can be a lot of work.

Angie Dittman was recently trying to sell a lifetime of accumulation with a yard sale in front of her home.

"These are collectibles," she said," that come with papers and that good stuff."

But Dittman admits it was a lot of work to set up, and despite collectibles that should sell for good money, many of her items were going for just a dollar or two.

If you want to get rid of things quickly, a summer yard sale could be a great idea. But, experts on the matter say that if you are looking to get top dollar, you might want to consider a buying or selling app that puts your merchandise in front of many more people.

It's also easier to find items to buy via an app, as opposed to driving around to weekend garage sales. Roseanne Sweikata scours Facebook for inexpensive clothing for her daughter, she says.

"I use Facebook Marketplace," she said. "You just have to make sure you trust who you meet up to buy from."

Popular selling apps

Among the most popular buying and selling apps in 2002 are:

  • OfferUp (which recently merged with competitor LetGo).

And if you are trying to buy or sell used clothing:

But Sarah Wetzel of the Better Business Bureau says these apps also require a lot more caution for both buyers and sellers.

One red flag to watch out for, she says, is a seller who wants you to pay with gift cards, a wire transfer, or even cryptocurrency.

"They're most likely making sure that it's not traceable," she warned.

The BBB says other things to watch for include:

  • Bogus paper checks that will bounce in a week or two. Beware of any paper checks.
  • Deals too good to be true, such as working PlayStation 5 for $25: it may be a scam.
  • Fake listings that are often copied from a legitimate seller's website, then posted at a lower price (same as that PS5 above)

Most important, Wetzel says, if you're meeting a buyer or seller in person, "you want to make sure that you're not giving away your home address to a stranger, that you're meeting in a centralized, safe place," she said. "For instance, outside of a local police department is always a great idea."

That way, a selling app is as safe as a local neighborhood yard sale, and you don't waste your money.

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