Consumer Reports: Safety tips when using Facebook Marketplace

Consider meeting at a police station when buying or selling
Consumer Reports explains some safety steps you need to take before you meet up for an online sale.
Published: Mar. 24, 2023 at 5:22 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - It was a stark reminder of a potential danger of online marketplaces: An off-duty police officer from New York was shot and killed during an attempted robbery that was arranged over Facebook Marketplace for the sale of a car. It’s an extreme example of a real danger potentially facing anyone using these online platforms. But, as Consumer Reports explains, there are some safety steps you need to take before you meet up for an online sale.

Take Michelle Concha, for example. She loves shopping on Facebook Marketplace. “My daughter’s two bicycles! She outgrew one, had to get a second one, and went straight back there again. They’ll have a price, but if I think that it’s a little higher, and then they meet me at my price, then I definitely feel like a winner.”

But along with getting a good deal using social media, you can also get scammed. Unfortunately, the amount consumers have lost to all types of social media fraud grows yearly, totaling $770 million in 2021. But no matter how sophisticated scammers are, there are ways to protect yourself.

Think about where the sale will take place. Meet in a public, well-lit area, and never give away your home address! Consider a police station. Some even have designated parking spots where marketplace meet-ups are watched by security cameras.

Another tip is never to exchange cash. Facebook Marketplace recommends a secure person-to-person payment method, but Consumer Reports says not all P2P apps are the same. “For each of these apps, don’t just assume that their default settings are ones that manage your privacy, security, and also have the best policies for helping you get your money back in case of an error,” Delicia Reynolds Hand said. She’s with Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports looked at four popular peer-to-peer apps: Apple Cash, Cash App, Venmo, and Zelle, and found that none of them reimburse users for sending money to the wrong person or sending too much money by mistakenly adding extra digits to an intended amount.

As for Michelle Concha, she has a tip for shopping on Facebook Marketplace. Take a peek at the seller’s profile. “I actually bought a car on marketplace! And it’s because we had people in common in the area, that I felt actually more secure about buying the car from that person.”