A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

BBB Trends: Looking for a garage sale deal — you aren’t alone; beware of the cons

By Sandra Guile
Better Business Bureau

Summer is ripe with signs for estate sales, garage sales, and weekend flea market explorations. It’s also a great time to find a great deal, discover an antique or find the perfect decorative item that will look fabulous in your house. You’re not the only one looking for a steal, con artists are too.

Lock It Up

Having a yard sales isn’t necessarily a dangerous activity, however, it doesn’t hurt to take a few basic precautions. Lock all of the doors leading to your home including the door from the garage to the interior even if you plan to go in and out frequently. Your attention will be needed elsewhere at some point during the sale when tending to visitors. Politely refuse the use of your restroom as this provides an opportunity for future theft.

Just prior to the sale, keep everything locked up. Yard sale shoppers tend to check out items before the sale begins to map out what areas to shop first if there are specific items they’re looking for.

Be Buyer Aware

There is safety in numbers and often many cons will travel in groups sifting through the displayed items. One will be the designation distractor while another will ask about another item or simply engage you in conversation. Treat your garage sale like you would a retailer. Enlist a friend or family member to help you during the time of the sale to keep an eye out for people swapping tags, hiding items or distracting while the rest of the posse rifles through items.

Bigger ticket items, like jewelry and electronics, should be kept close and don’t hand it over until the correct cash is handed over.

Cash Only, Please

Stay sharp when it comes to settling up for the purchases. Watch for the high bill switch where the buyer flashes a $20 but tries to pay with a $10 claiming you shortchanged them. Or, look for counterfeit high dollar bills. Check out the US Currency website for tips on what to look for.

Looks Suspicious? Say Something!

Keep a fully charged cell phone with you at all times and if something doesn’t seem right or you’re approached by someone who’s not being very cooperative, don’t hesitate to contact local law enforcement.

Sandra Guile is the Public Relations Specialist for BBB. She promotes BBB’s message of marketplace ethics through public speaking engagements, presentations, media relations, press releases, web content, and other written materials. Your BBB is located at 1 East 4th Street Suite 600 Cincinnati, Ohio 45202 – to reach the office, call (513) 421-3015.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment