Over the last few months we have opened up some conversations around money with Gumtree’s Money Smart Moms Initiative. I love conversations like this because they help us talk about this topic from the perspective of being a parent. My post about taking pressure off yourself when it comes to parties got some great feedback from moms who said it was just what they needed to hear. That because of this discussion they decided to do the right thing and not over-spend on such occasion but to rather save that money for other things. One mom said that after reading my post, she even decided to sell some unused clothing of hers on Gumtree to buy her little baby a nice gift, rather than spend thousands of rands on a party, which would have caused her to go into debt. She felt good knowing she was saving for her child’s future (paying school fees in advance) and ensuring she would be looked after where it mattered most.
I will always add the important disclaimer, that of course there’s’ nothing wrong with spoiling your kids and throwing parties. Flip, that’s what life it about… sometimes we need to throw a little caution to the wind and go all out. But, it doesn’t always have to be that way and for many its just not a feasible option when we have so many other more important things to consider every month. I also spoke about how it’s sometimes wiser to wait until you child is older and they can actually remember their party to go to town on decor, rather than than their first year where they are barely aware of what’s going on. Again, I realise that more often this is for the mommy and that’s okay too. I think it’s really personal choice and everyone’s situation is different.
But some other feedback I have received from my posts, is that some moms feel that Gumtree isn’t always the safest and easiest platform to buy and sell goods. Some felt that there were safer platforms to make use of and that although they hadn’t experienced a scammer personally, they sometimes felt it were easier to get scammed on Gumtree.
Today I’m going to try and put some of those fears to rest and talk about how we can be better prepared and on the look out for those sketchy characters, who may be trying to take advantage. I think it’s important to remember that dishonest scammers exist. They exist everywhere and no matter what platform, there will always be some small risks that may involve people stealing your money or trying to sell you bad quality goods. (Heck, even on the Mom Groups we are apart of on Facebook have scam artists who have taken advantage of good-hearted moms!) But there are plenty of ways you can minimise that risk and most of it comes down to just good common sense and following a few easy guidelines.
Online trading sites like Gumtree have enabled millions of South Africans to make and save money but, Claire Cobbledick, Head of Core Business for Gumtree SA, warns that consumers always need to stay alert for scammers.
“The overwhelming majority of online transactions pass off safely, but as platforms sharpen their security and new players enter the market, new scams are created. Fortunately these are fairly easy to identify.”
Cobbledick highlights some of the current scam warning signs;
* Potential buyers who ask you to delete your ad or communicate only via Whatsapp. This makes it hard for the platform to track your communication. Work though the brand app or platform only, and keep your ad active until the item is sold. Do not provide your direct email address or phone number.
* Potential buyers who claim to work offshore. Of course, not everyone who works offshore is a scammer but be extra suspicious if they refuse to communicate via Skype, claim that they don’t have phone access, or that they work on an oil rig or at a mine in a foreign country. Also be very alert to anyone willing to pay for the item via PayPal or money transfer without viewing it.
* Car buyers, in particular, who ask for information not related to the item, e.g. your bank account details, whether or not your car is equipped with an alarm system, your ID number etc. These are possibly data scammers, so never provide any personal information.
* Potential buyers who refer to your advert in vague terms, referencing “the item” or “your merchandise”. It is relatively easy to make sure that the buyer is genuinely interested in your item rather than someone just trawling the internet looking for an easy target.
* Anyone who does not want to meet in person to assess the item or to finalise the deal should concern you, unless there is an obvious geographical reason for this.
* Anyone hounding you constantly to make a decision or a payment should send up a red flag. Do not be pressurised, make your checks.
* Bad spelling, foreign telephone numbers or a refusal to share information are all warning signs.
Cobbledick says vigilance is the most important defense against scams. “Keep a hawk eye out for suspect behaviours during your communication. If in doubt, then back out and report your suspicions to the site so we can follow up. Our help desk help.gumtree.co.za operates 24/7. Any confirmed fraudulent activity must also be reported to SAPS.”
Another thing I would strongly urge you to do if you are a woman, is make sure that you don’t allow men into your home when you are alone. Rather make sure you have a male friend or family member with you or simply arrange to meet in a public place to exchange goods. This is always a better idea, as women can be an easier target.
I hope you have found this helpful and encouraged you to make use of this platform in a way that serves you well. I’m going to be sharing what I bought off Gumtree recently as party of an exciting new project I have coming up soon! Hint hint : It’s another makeover!! And it comes with a HUGE giveaway again 🙂
This post was written in collaboration with Gumtree