When you want to buy or sell something used online, your first thought might be to use Craigslist. After all, it's the site that brought the newspaper classifieds into the digital world and today has nearly 40 million new listings every month.
Of course, using Craigslist does have valid concerns. You might deal with a buyer or seller who tries to cheat you with bad payment or an item that's different than what was listed. There are many stories of people going to meet a buyer or seller only to get robbed — or worse. That's why it's essential to meet in a public place and let someone know where you're going. Or, it might be smart to bring them along, too.
Fortunately, Craigslist isn't the only game in town. Here are three sites that fix Craigslist's biggest problems.
A safer Craigslist
If safety is your primary concern, then OfferUp is where you should start. It created the innovative TruYou system to verify the identity of buyers and sellers.
The TruYou system works with the site's app for Android and Apple gadgets. It lets you scan your ID so the website can verify your identity for other users on the site. Items sold by TruYou-verified sellers have a blue highlight.
There's also a rating system, so buyers and sellers can let the rest of the community know what they thought about a particular transaction. Was your item described accurately? Was the other person friendly? This is the place to let everyone know what to expect.
Buying is really easy with OfferUp. If you like something, just click on it to be taken to the item page. From there, you can make an offer. You'll see the price the owner is asking for next to the item, but you might be able to talk them down. If the seller accepts your offer, you can set up a time and place to meet up and get your stuff.
Selling is simple, too. Using the app, you can take a picture of the item you want to sell, add details like your asking price, and then upload it. The whole process is done in no time.
Buy and sell ‘like-new’ clothes from brands you love
Used clothes aren't something you'd normally want to buy online — especially from Craigslist. You never know where they've been or what condition they're really in.
ThredUp aims to change that. The site has a strict set of Quality Standards for all clothes it accepts. It employs a team of fashion experts to go through all the clothes and approve them for sale.
Clothing is not all you can save money on, though. You can also find accessories, from all sorts of shoes to purses and handbags on the site. That's where you can really save the big bucks. Imagine getting a ‘looks just as good as new’ Coach bag for a huge discount. You can save money on clothes for your kids and grandkids, too.
If you have nice clothes you want to get rid of before updating your wardrobe, you can sell them on the site, too. ThredUp depends on people like you to collect its inventory. It's easy to send in your old stuff to make a little extra cash.
Find garage sales near you
One of the best places to get used items is garage sales. Not only can you physically examine the item, you can do some haggling to get a better price.
You just need to find a good garage sale, and that's where GSALR.com comes in. Just enter your location in the search box to see garage sales going on in your area on a Google Map. Then click on the red location flags for more details like time and location of the sale, or scroll through the listings on the right side of the page.
If you don't care about travel distance, you can browse the listings or sift through photos by clicking "List" or "Photos" at the top of the page.
Need to narrow your search and filter your results? Click on "Search Filters," located at the top left of the page, and enter a new location, the day of a sale, or enter keywords to look for a certain item like furniture or antiques.
Once you've found sales near you, you can add to a favorites list by clicking the favorite button. When you're done adding favorites, click "View Route & Directions" to get directions.
If you're in the mood for selling, you can add your own garage sale to the site.
Bonus: Get tons of free valuable stuff people are giving away
What do you do if you have used items you can't sell? Don't just throw it in the trash; give them away on Freecycle.
Freecycle is a non-profit that lets you post your unwanted items to give away. It's kind of like Craigslist — but only with free stuff.
To get started, create a free account and post the items you want to get rid of. Be sure to include a full description. Photos help, too.
On the flip side, if you're in the market for something in particular, you can post a want ad and see if anyone responds. Or, just cruise the site and see what kind of free stuff you can get. I mean, who doesn't love free stuff?
When I looked in my area, there was a range of items, from television sets and moving boxes to desktop computers, children’s clothing, plants, and fitness equipment.
On the Kim Komando Show, the nation's largest weekend radio talk show, Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today's digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com. Kim also posts breaking tech news 24/7 at News.Komando.com.