Monday, June 7, 2010

Selling Safely

Recently here in Charlotte there was a double murder of an elderly couple who went to meet someone to sell their car.

A lot of people do this, especially with E-Bay and Craigslist making the process so convenient. However, anytime you go to meet some unknown person(s) to do a deal there's a risk involved.

What I'm going to cover here is a couple of steps to minimize that risk.

1. Gather intel. You have the person's phone number and name. Google them both and see what shows up. You can, for a fee, do a reverse lookup on their number and see that it comes back to who they say they are. Run their name through the local sheriff's dept and see if they've ever been arrested for anything.

2. Sanitize your vehicle. That means take out anything with your name and address on it, any valuables, and anything that could be used against you as a weapon. I've mentioned in other blogs the importance of what your car says about you and how much info a lot of them contain for the bad guys.

3. Arrange to meet in a public place. (the victims in this case didn't) That means a mall, a shopping center, a gas station or in front of a police station. Make sure it's when they're open and there's going to be loads of people around.

4. Take someone with you...preferably someone BIG. Husband, boyfriend, neighbor's kid, cousin...someone who at least looks the part.

5. Once you arrive at the meeting place, if you feel bad about the situation or the people you're meeting (now that you've laid eyes on them) feel free to leave. Trust your instincts. (The couple in this instance felt something was wrong and called their daughter to let her know. That was a good step and expedited the capture of the alleged killer but if they'd followed it up with high tailing it out of there they might be alive today)

6. Ask to see identification and proof of insurance. Take a pic of the i.d. and send it to someone on your camera phone if you want to be really safe. Also check with your insurance agent about who's covered etc during a test drive. If the potential buyer crashes the car it's a rotten time to find out your coverage doesn't extend that far.

7. Don't let them test drive on their own and don't let them outnumber you on the test drive. If you are by yourself and the two of them want to be in the car during the test drive you should be in the back seat and not in the front with someone sitting behind you.

8. Remember most of the above also applies if you're going to buy a car from someone online or in the paper. One scam involves the criminals using the address of a foreclosed or vacant home. You roll up and they produce a weapon, take your money and your vehicle and you have no idea who they are.

Remember, thousands of people every day do transactions like this and nothing goes wrong. Don't be paranoid about the whole thing but, by the same token, don't be complacent either. The aforementioned steps will go a long way towards alleviating risks.