It’s springtime. You put an ad on Craigslist to get rid of some things, clean out your garage and make a few bucks while you are at it. Maybe you have an old diamond ring to sell. Or that truck you are driving isn’t what it used to be, so you decide it’s time to sell.
The ad goes out, people call and you make the appointments. But, unfortunately, things don’t always go as planned, do they?

The Spec reports, The odds of being physically harmed from using an online classified service are not high, but a blend of cybercrime and physical crime is common enough in the U.S. that one police force there has offered consumers the opportunity to conduct online transactions in person at their police station.

“People believe that because it’s there online, and that someone is reaching out, that it must be legitimate … There’s a reason your mom always told you not to talk to strangers.”

Use Craigslist with caution. Don’t think for one second you can’t be robbed, burglarized, scammed or killed. Some people’s homes have been invaded, and it can happen to you too. Be very careful who you contact; you never know who the person is or what his motivation may be.

Get identification details pre-meeting. Make sure to get the full contact details of the other person and call back to verify. A little white lie like, “My brother is a cop and will be here” will make the person you’re dealing think twice about harming you.

Meet at a public location. Coffee shops, malls, police stations—anywhere but your home that involves lots of other people. The more eyeballs, the better.

Trust your instincts. Don’t discount any weird feelings you might have about meeting with this person. If something seems wrong, then it IS wrong. Cancel if you don’t feel right about it.

Enlist a buddy. Strength in numbers makes predators think twice. Predators thrive on isolation. By pairing up, you reduce the chances of being attacked.

Be street smart. Expensive jewelry and provocative clothing can invite an attack. Scarves around your neck give attackers something to grab and choke you with. Wear sneakers that you can run and fight in.

Be on guard. Just like Mom said, there is risk in meeting strangers. Being on guard can keep you from getting into a compromised position.

Stay in communication. Let your spouse, friends, family or coworkers know where you are going, who you will be meeting and when you will be back. Stay in contact on your mobile while you are meeting.

Use your panic alarm. If you are crazy enough to meet the other party at your home, have someone stand guard at your home security alarm’s panic button to summon the police if things go wrong.

Robert Siciliano, personal and home security specialist to BestHomeSecurityCompanys.com, discussing burglar-proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

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