Home / Categories / Moving Tips / Garage Sale Scams

Garage Sale Scams

February 14th, 2013 - 3:26 PM

Garage sales are a great way to earn money and clean out the things that you no longer need or want – both great ideas if you’re planning a long-distance move! But be on guard. Garage sale scammers do exist and you could run into one at your next sale. Read all about garage sale scams below so you’ll be prepared to prevent a scam from happening or to spot a scammer at your sale.

How to avoid yard sale scams

  • Keep your money in a fanny pack instead of a cash box. This way, the money is always on you and not ever at risk of being stolen.
  • Have one cashier. If you have more than one, a scammer may pretend like they paid with another cashier, when in fact, they didn’t pay at all.
  • Check inside the boxes. A yard sale scammer will empty the box marked $1 and fill it with more valuable items. When they go to check out, they’ll count up the items inside and tell you how much it’s worth (when really it’s worth a lot more).
  • Always keep the money they give you for the purchase within sight until you give them their change. Some scammers will try to say they gave you a $20 bill, when in fact they gave you a $10. Say “Out of $10, here is $5 in change.”
  • Calculate the price of the items yourself. Scammers will try to add the total up for you to be helpful, but then give you a way lower price than what the items were originally marked as.
  • Get as many friends you can to work your garage sale with you. Why? Because scammers will switch tag prices so that they can get away with an even cheaper price. They know that it will be hard for you to remember what you initially priced each and every item.
  • Again, have people working the sale with you. Some scammers can be very bold, and instead of switching the tags, they’ll just steal the items. How? One scammer will distract you while the other one goes in for the steal. This is one of the worst garage sale scams out there.
  • Never work a garage sale alone. Not only do you put your items in danger or being stolen because you can’t see them all, you also put yourself in danger because you are home alone.
  • Purchase a counterfeit pin from your local home office store. If it’s legit, the mark will be yellow. If it’s fake, it’ll be black. Well worth the money I think!
  • Take large bills inside the house.
  • If you can, make your garage sale a “driveway” sale. This way, they won’t even be able to see inside your garage.
  • Let customers know (with a sign) that you do not accept large bills (which are more likely to be counterfeit). If all they have are large bills, tell them you will hold their items for a limited amount of time while they run to the ATM.
  • Lock all other doors and windows to your house.
  • Do not let the garage sale customers try clothes on inside your home.
  • Do not accept personal checks…cash only.
  • If you have open shelving inside your garage, use a sheet to cover it. If it’s not for sale, cover it up.
  • If someone buys a large item (like a washer or dryer), make sure they didn’t put a bunch of unpaid stuff inside of it to take along, too.
  • If you are selling nice jewelry, put it up close to the person working the cash drawer. The more valuable the item, the closer it needs to be in sight.
  • Always have a cell phone within reach. You never know when you’ll need to make an emergency call.

I hope you have enjoyed these tips for avoiding garage sale scams (or yard sale scams depending on where you’re from). If you have any to add to the list or a story of a scam to tell, just comment below! We want you to have a very successful and safe garage sale!