How safe is to buy, sell or post personal info online?

This is the question of the day. Or the year or just about any length of time, likewise.

A number of sites state that you can get great deals when buying used things online, however not from the legit sources like eBay or the like. The way around this, they say, is using either Facebook pages or Craigslist, both are free. Facebook does run a few local groups that post used items for sale; there are even a few having the words Garage Sale with variations in their titles but these appear to be just some other Facebook groups.

Light Bulb

A little known fact, a Facebook group isn’t the same as a Page. You can only post on a group but not really advertise.  A group to a page is like my free WordPress blog to an established web page.

The ‘great deals’ statement can’t be verified as there is no paper trail, so you have no other choice than to trust the source or vice versa.  Looks like a website can make said statement accompanied by a picture of a participating family to boot, and bingo.

Image Credit: TheGuardian site

Image Credit: TheGuardian site

TheGuardian site has posted a pic of a happy family of four who sell their used goodies using Facebook groups, Twitter, apps etc which was reportedly easier than doing same on eBay. Easier means avoiding the fees and doing cash transactions. I can visualize IRS jumping up and down with joy. The featured couple likely felt like a million dollars being displayed on the front page of TheGuardian.

UPDATE: I saw this picture elsewhere. Have recently changed my theme, and while browsing, came across The Monet Theme that sported this very picture. For a few seconds I stared at it in a total disbelief. TheGuardian site features this picture along with the names of the family members printed underneath so I took for granted it was authentic. WordPress however doesn’t provide the names. Now I wonder where this picture originates from. Chances are, it can be even digital. Oh well. No one felt like a million dollars after all. What a disappointment.

On the other hand, this picture supports my point that you can’t trust just ANYTHING that you see on the net.  Much less meet someone after a few emails.

HOW ABOUT SAFETY?

TheGuardian site goes on saying
that “the security of buying from someone you can communicate with via social media” can prove “an attractive alternative to waiting for items to arrive through the post.”

Excuse me? Ever since when meeting a total stranger face to face who you just had exchanged a few messages with online is safe and secure? Short of performing a background search, how exactly can you confirm the person on the other side of the web? How can you be sure?

ClickOrlando site states basically the same as TheGuardian but brings safety to the table by introducing red flags to look out prior to meeting a stranger.

The red flags, as per site, include Facebook groups with administrators (admin for short) who presumably are not fake. Furthermore, if you experience a bad transaction, you can let the admin know and often, they’ll warn other people in the group. Exactly how often, remains to be seen. What the heck is the definition of often?

The above red flag concept applies only if it wasn’t admin who gave you a hard time with a transaction.  Admin is immune; will post about it later.

Once you’re in the group and ready for an action, the first thing you do is look for the fake profiles. You’d think that the group admin would do this for you out of courtesy, but don’t bet on it. Enter self service.

The first step in this direction is paying attention to the fake pictures that are oftentimes cartoons or celebrity photos, says ClickOrlando. Of course, what an ingenious idea! Maybe I should use a pic of Marilyn Monroe or Donald Trump in my profile to see how this works. Currently I am using a combined image of my first name with a pic of a banana right next to it, both pieces were created and put together using Microsoft Office and Paint programs. I am not a fake, however, and neither is my type 2 diabetes.  But I do have my reasons. Confession time, I am a grandma in my 50 plus. I know for a fact that some folks have attitudes to people over a certain age; I want to spare myself some embarrassment dealing with that garbage. I like staying a bit private whether online or offline, it’s a part of my lifestyle. I think that whatever I want to keep private is nobody’s business, take it or leave it.

The next red flag, as per ClickOrlando, are profiles that were recently created with little or no info posted and only a few friends. This concept leaves no wiggle room for those who legitimately joins Facebook groups and starts from scratch. Come on now, everyone has to start out somewhere. This theory suggests that everyone who joins Facebook groups for the first time, has to somehow be established already with a COMPLETE personal info given out to the strangers for the mere looking, not even for the asking. How does that jive with safety?

My own profile despite being established doesn’t have much of my personal info exposed. I have acquired plenty of friends that honestly, I am not sure what to do with. The process is easier than you think, just click the approve button once someone puts forth a friend request, and boom, done. Imagine doing this in real life lol. I usually don’t put my own request for such. Have done this once that resulted in that person questioning whether she knows me. I babbled no but we have posted in the same group. Needless to say, this wasn’t a good enough reason so I dropped the habit of requesting online friendships. Not that it matters much as e-friendship is materially different from its real life counterpart.

Of course this way of locating suspected fakes isn’t perfect and really doesn’t mean a squat. Which is reflected in the site statement that all of the above are just ‘quick guidelines’ and don’t mean that whoever is behind the profiles in question has ‘bad intentions’. Of course you may want to do some ‘extra checking’ whatever that means.

The way I see it, a real ‘extra checking’ translates into performing a background check on each poster on Facebook group or Craigslist. And good luck with that.

Speaking of security, an episode aired on the HLN channel comes to mind. A couple had posted an ad about selling their truck, out comes a buyer and feeds them a story about having to go to a friend to get money, so all three get into his car and go for the green. A while into the trip the couple realizes that there’s no friend, there’s no money and that they are trapped. I think both of them were murdered. Think this can’t happen to you in a Facebook or a Craigslist transaction?

Since HLN was silent as to where the truck ad was published, I think it’s safe to assume it could have been on either one of the above.

Another alternative would be having your purse snatched on a whim by a complete stranger whom you just “met” on Facebook or Craigslist or the like.  Chances are that TheGuardian site hasn’t done any real life testing of their theory of security of buying from someone after having communicate with them on “social media”.
LOL

What do you think happens if you buy a fake or a bootleg off of a Facebook group or from Craigslist? Is there any Return Policy?  Warranty?  lol

The site further clears themselves out of all the above stated. The expressed views are not even theirs but come from some ‘moderated forum’. There are zero comments to this piece and the word Terms of Service is not even a link. How convenient. Care to do ‘extra checking’ on this site?


DISCLAIMER:  By posting this, I am not seeking any help or advice.  Your comments are welcome. This post is meant to share my personal experiences and opinions outside my life with diabetes. You are advised not to follow my suggestions; should you choose to do so anyway, you’re doing this at your own risk.  Your mileage may vary; this is my mileage.

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