smart spending

5 ways to stay safe when selling online

Ensuring the item is received
Ensuring the item is received © fotoedu/Shutterstock.com

You know you sent the package to the buyer. You even have delivery confirmation from the post office. But now the buyer says he or she didn't receive it. How can you prevent this in the future?

One scam is that someone falsely claims the package never arrived, says McGrath. For that reason, he recommends positive tracking, meaning a signature is required at delivery, so it's harder for the recipient to make that claim. Delivery tracking shows only that the item was dropped off, but it could have been left on a doorstep, and there's no way to ensure it went to the right address or that the right person received it. "There's no proof of delivery," says McGrath.

Before shipping expensive items with U.S. Postal Service, UPS, FedEx or DHL, make sure the shipper requires a signature at delivery, even if there's an additional fee.

For smaller items, it's less important, says McGrath. For items less than 3 pounds and valued less than $50, he ships through USPS because it's cheaper. For more expensive items, he uses UPS because he wants a company with better tracking. "It's a little more work upfront with UPS," he says.

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