Officials: Playing it safe while finding deals this holiday season


MIDWEST CITY, Okla. (KFOR) – This Christmas shopping season, you may be turning to websites like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace to find the best deals but it’s important to do so safely.

Local law enforcement has worked many cases of these exchanges that took a dangerous turn and they have best practices for you to follow.

Whether in store or online, ’tis the season for finding bargains as you spread holiday cheer.

“This time of year, people are finding really good deals on Marketplace, on Craigslist, but there can be certain dangers with that as well,” said Aaron Brilbeck, with the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office.

Brilbeck says law enforcement frequently works exchanges between strangers gone wrong.

That’s why they’ve created a safe space for them at their Midwest City office.

“We have two cameras that are pointing right down there,” Brilbeck said. “Everything that’s done there can be done on camera. Go to any local police department, you can do a transfer there.”

If the buyer or seller doesn’t want to meet there, it’s a red flag.

Basic rules for safety include meeting in the daylight or a well-lit area. Always meet in a public space, preferably with cameras and bring a friend.

However, he says some public spaces are safer than others.

“If they want to meet you by an abandoned building, you don’t want to do that,” Brilbeck said. “If they want to meet you at a local gas station, you might not want to do that.”

Something you may not think of, though, is to accept cash only.

Checks can bounce and a cashier’s check can be forged.

“Even Venmo can have its challenges,” said Brilbeck. “With something bigger, like if you’re buying or selling an automobile, try to meet at the bank where the person is taking out their loan.”

The bottom line is trust your gut. 

“Trust your spider sense,” said Brilbeck. “Most of us have it. Don’t be afraid to step away from the deal.”

It’s also wise to pre-plan everything. Work out a price before you meet, so you’re not trying to strike a deal in person.

Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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