Online marketplaces are a convenient source for finding a bargain and buying affordable furniture and other home goods. Unfortunately, if you’re not careful during the purchase and exchange process, you might find yourself facing scams and dangerous situations. Here are a few ways to ensure your safety when buying furniture online.
Research the item
To prevent getting scammed, research the furniture you want before buying it. Search various e-commerce sites to see the price for a new product, then compare the seller’s price to store prices. If the product you’re eyeing is practically new, it should be discounted at least a few dollars from the regular retail price. Additionally, products depreciate in value depending on the condition.
Review how other sellers are pricing the same item on e-commerce sites. If you have a question about the product, message the seller to ask about its condition. Don’t hesitate to contact the merchant just because they’re likely a total stranger — a trustworthy online seller should be happy to answer your questions.
Check the seller’s profile
If you’re using an online marketplace on which sellers maintain profiles, ask yourself: Does the seller’s profile look legitimate? Are they providing very little information about themselves? Take a note of the seller’s reviews and, if applicable, friends. It is suspicious if they have a small number of friends, and it can also be suspicious if they have very few reviews (or lots of negative reviews).
Beware of any red flags regarding what the seller uploads to their profile. You may be dealing with a scammer if the merchant posts many spam links in public posts. If applicable, do a reverse image search of the seller’s profile picture to see if the person is using a picture of someone else.
Inspect the product before purchasing
How does the furniture look in pictures? Before authorizing a payment, ask to see the product. The item may have signs of damage that the seller doesn’t show in photos. If the furniture is expensive, bring an expert — or maybe just a friend who buys a lot of secondhand furniture — for a second opinion. If the product is electronic, test whether it operates correctly.
Safely meet the seller in public
The safest way to meet the seller is far from your home and in a populated public space. Some people believe it’s safe to meet at a police station in front of security cameras. Other options include a shopping mall, restaurant, or coffee shops. Bringing a friend while meeting a seller in public adds another layer of security.
Use a secure payment method directly from the seller
Make sure to use a secure payment method. Sellers may ask for an indirect way of paying through a third-party site. The Better Business Bureau suggests purchasing your item using a person-to-person payment method.
Shopping online can help you find a vast selection of stylish furniture at reasonable prices. You can find many different styles of furniture from various eras, and if you’re vigilant with your safety and against fraud, online buying can be an unbeatable way to get a bargain.