smart spending

5 ways to stay safe when selling online

Don't give out personal contact info
Don't give out personal contact info © Dragon Images/Shutterstock.com

On Craigslist, it's easy to mask your identity by using their automatically generated anonymous email address, which is then forwarded to your personal email address. Don't give your address or phone number on the post, says McGrath. An interested buyer can email you through Craigslist, and you can respond.

"We do the whole thing by email and just meet at the Starbucks" to make the sale, McGrath says. He uses Craigslist only for larger items he's selling, like a dog crate that's difficult to ship.

If the item is too large for your car and you need them to meet at your home, McGrath suggests talking to the person on the phone first. Get a sense of what they're like before giving out your address, says McGrath.

Consider using your cellphone number, which doesn't trace back to your home address. Or set up a Google Voice account, says Hsiung. Google Voice numbers are free, and you can program it to forward to your home or cellphone, masking your actual phone number.

Many people use dedicated email addresses for online sales as well, to keep their personal email addresses separate.

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