Staying Safe on OfferUp - The Dos and Don'ts of Online Marketplace Transactions

It’s safe to say that buying and selling is not what it once was. You’re not limited to driving to the store, scanning the many aisles, and leaving with more than you went for in the first place. You’re also not limited to exchanging emails with a stranger, scanning the curbs for your next find, or having to shovel out a ton of money to drop your things off at the dump. These days you can simply snap a pic, add a price, and your item is now easily accessible by millions of people. And as a shopper, you can find great prices and amazing bargains all in the palm of your hand.

Hooray, online marketplaces!

Whatever the motivation behind your buying and selling, doing it on OfferUp or other second-hand sites is different. There’s no cashier, you’ll never need to pay for parking or duel it out with other shoppers to get to that limited while-supplies-last deal. On OfferUp, the deals are being posted every day. All it takes is a good eye and even better online habits to make those deals yours. Keeping that in mind, we’d like to share some safe online habits that we’ve been gathering over the years. That brings us to…

What to look for for a great OfferUp experience:

  1. TruYou. It’s no secret that our community likes to interact with people that have completed optional verifications like TruYou, email/phone confirmation, etc., and for good reason! Completing the TruYou process is a demonstration of trust before any words are spoken. This is identity verification, confirming that this person is who they say they are. We aren’t able to vouch for their character though, that’s why we have ratings.

  2. Ratings. It’s a good idea to always give a once-over on the profile you’re looking to meet up with, but don’t totally dismiss the idea of picking up a great item just because they haven’t had a chance to complete TruYou or post a picture. A strong indication that someone has good character will always come from the ratings. Ratings are only posted to a profile once a transaction has occurred (someone has been rated a buyer or seller), so if someone has an otherwise blank profile, but 35 five-star ratings, they’re probably a reliable person.

  3. Communicative. Listen, we’re not saying that you’re required to make a friend just from buying something on OfferUp. What we are saying is that it happens all the time, you just have to be open to the idea. First step to being open? Communicating! If they’re selling a unique piece of furniture or decor, ask them why they’re selling or if the item has a history behind it. If they’re buying an air conditioner from you, comment on how hot this summer has been already. It may be easy to pick up an item and move on, but it’s more rewarding to #offerupfind the gift that keeps on giving — friendship. 😇

  4. But not too communicative. On the other hand, there is such as a thing as too much information. In life, not just on our app, it’s better to be wary of people who are asking for too much personal information right off the bat: phone number, email address, home address, and even linking you to third party websites are all too much information and should be carefully considered before being handed over. OfferUp has a built-in messaging feature for two primary reasons: to protect your identity and help keep you safe. Keeping all communication with a buyer or seller in the app helps us do that.

  5. Trust your gut. Think of your instincts as a special power. If you feel a knot in your stomach or any concern for your safety before meeting up with someone new, always listen to that feeling and either meet somewhere else, bring a friend or family member with you, tell someone you trust about who you are meeting, or be honest and let them know you’d like to cancel. Your safety should always take precedence over a good bargain. Remember: it was instinct that lead Christopher Columbus to the New World — and a map. But no worries, we have those too! You can find tips in the app, or you can head to to find the closest Internet Exchange zone to you.

Things to be cautious of:

  1. Night owls. There’s no deal sweet enough that meeting up with the buyer or seller is worth venturing out into the world after dark. This one can be challenging, especially when life can move fast on OfferUp and  you see a great deal — the natural reaction is to act quickly. Late night meetups can be worth the trouble, because we’ve seen some pretty good ones. But really, no reward is worth the risk. That can wait until morning.

  2. Too good to be true. You know the saying, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.” The brand new iPhone that was only released last week probably wouldn’t realistically be only $200, even if the seller is adamant they are serious about the price. Do your research on both the item and the seller. Search for the same iPhone and see what the average asking price is before you commit or check out their user profile, keeping in mind the tips from above.

  3. Being too shy. Let’s get right to it: meeting new people is hard. Meeting new people on OfferUp is different because you’ll likely never run into your buyer or seller again, so the situation is ripe with opportunity for awkwardness. Don’t let this get in the way of asking all the questions you need to ask, or meeting somewhere you’d prefer not to meet, just so you can “get it over with.” There’s no harm in asking if you can test something before buying, or if you can meet at an

    , a police station, or a grocery store to exchange high-value items.

  4. New accounts. On OfferUp, your reputation can either make or break you. Think about it: are you more likely to buy from a blank profile with five 1-star ratings, or a profile with a picture and a few 5-star ratings? Probably the latter but don’t let that stop you from creating an account. Especially if you follow our good experience tips, you’re bound to find a buyer or seller to start building your positive reputation. Just use caution with accounts that haven’t had the chance to put up a picture or complete TruYou.

When it comes down to it, the best way to keep yourself safe in most situations is to listen to your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not. We are giving you permission to walk away. Don’t worry, the deals will be here when you come back.