Protecting Yourself from Classified Ad Scams

Learn how to recognize potential scams when buying or selling items using classified ads


While the internet is a great place to buy and sell items in the classifieds, you should always use caution to avoid becoming the victim of a scam. Here are a few tips you can use to help identify a potential scam when buying or selling items in classified ads:
  • Ads that sound too good to be true and have an unusually low price may be fraud
  • The seller urgently needs to sell the item and may describe family or personal issues as the reason for selling
  • Buyer or seller is unable or refuses to complete the transaction in person
  • Emails / phone calls / text messages from buyers or sellers who are not in your local area
  • Items for sale are stored elsewhere and will require shipping.
  • The seller is willing to pay for shipping of farm equipment and may be located in a different country.
  • Advanced payment required for items you have not received yet
  • Request to ship items before you have received payment
While most transactions that occur between people using online classified ads are legitimate and safe, taking some precautions before buying or selling goods online is a good way to prevent you from losing your money or valuables.
  • Do not send payment by money transfers, money orders, Amazon, Ebay, Paypal, Escrow services, Western Union, Money Gram, PrePaid credit card or cashier check.
  • Use a notary when selling items like tractors, farm equipment, real-estate, and recreational vehicles
  • Do not provide personal information, including social security numbers, banking information
  • Never invite a stranger into your home
  • Use a counterfeit detecting pen if you are receiving payment in large amounts of cash
  • Get the vehicle / equipment reviewed by a mechanic or equipment dealer prior to purchase