How to avoid online scams during the holidays


Trying to sell some items online during the holiday season? There are a few things people can do to protect themselves from online scams:

1. Some scams start with an email inquiry to an ad stating "I saw your item on (site's name) and would like to buy it. Please let me know if it is still available and what is the final price." This can be a clue that someone is fishing for a potential victim.

2. The scammer will often refer to "your item" never stating what the item is that you are trying to sell. They will usually ask for the price even though it's listed in the ad and in the headline. They are never specific with the information they supply or ask for. This is a generic email sent to a number of people in the hopes that someone will bite.

3. The fraudulent inquiries tend to come shortly after you post your ad. The person's email address will usually look odd with a bunch of jumbled letters or a generic name, like Smith, with the email provider being one of the free ones like gmail or hotmail. The person might also say they will give you more money for covering the shipping.

4. Always look for specific inquiries to the item your are selling. A potential buyer may try to haggle the price. If a response doesn't ask about the item (eg. "I am interested in the bike you have posted on craigslist"), just delete it. If it looks off and sounds too good to be true, it probably is.


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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.