Keeping safe while shopping on social media

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Spring is a busy time of year for people who want to buy and sell their things.

As students are moving out of their dorms and apartments to go back home for the summer, many of them are turning to Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist to clean out their closets and make some money.

But after a recent case in Chicago where a 19-year-old pregnant woman was killed and her child was ripped from her womb after she responded to a Facebook ad for free baby clothes, WCAX News wanted to make sure people in Burlington are practicing safety when completing transactions from online buy-and-sell apps. We went down to Church Street on Wednesday night to talk to people about what they do to stay safe online.

Danny Hayes from South Burlington said he has used Facebook Marketplace to sell cellphones and his daughter’s old clothes and toys. He also told WCAX about a time he lost thousands of dollars after he sold a car and made a deal with the buyer that he or she would make monthly payments. After he received the down payment, Hayes said he never heard from that person again.

"This is definitely something you should look out for. Take the money upfront. I actually got burned $3,600," he said.

To avoid being scammed, Hayes recommends researching the person you’re corresponding with.

Some people in Burlington say they’ve learned the hard way to do their due diligence. Fraud experts warn you to always meet up in public and to be skeptical of deals that seem too good to be true.

"There was somebody who said, 'I've got a bunch of cash,' and they just sent us a picture of several hundred dollars of cash which seems like a scam," said Burlington resident Lauren Young, who sold her car on Craigslist.

Some users take extra steps to hide their personal information.

"Sometimes, I'll actually delete my email signature when I'm replying because it might have more information that I don’t necessarily want to share in the first message to somebody," said Cameron Russell of Burlington.

You are also advised to never wire money and never complete a transaction outside of the state or the country.