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Purchases from small ads - Advice
Using the small ads and internet for items that you need or would like is something that almost everyone does. However, if the transaction is with a seller/buyer you do not know, consider these measures and do some research.
What details do you put in the initial advert?
Limit the amount of personal information in the ad – even a postcode will give an area that criminals can focus on if the item is valuable. Any information posted can be used by others for ulterior motives or to establish where you live or the items for sale are likely to be stored.
Think carefully about whether you should provide a telephone number.
There are pros and cons: you retain your privacy by not posting it, but you can have a better feel for a potential buyer by speaking to the person.
Stage photos to obscure identifying information.
People taking photos of cars for sale in their driveway often unknowingly give away the house number and licence plate number.
What details has the seller/buyer given you?
Name, address, email address, mobile telephone number and landline number (that relates to the address given) once a transaction has been agreed. If these details do not match up with any internet or other search that you conduct, or you feel uneasy about the details given, then walk away from the deal. Advise the buyer that you will require identification from them such as passport or driving licence when you meet up.
If you are selling a vehicle, get the details of the driving licence.
If possible, get these details emailed to you with the counterpane. Are there points on it for speeding or other offences? Do you have concerns that the driver may be banned? If the driving licence looks fake, or the details are not corresponding with other information, you may want to walk away from the deal.
Where is the transaction going to occur?
Bringing a buyer to your home as a seller to complete the transaction means that they know where you live; they may then say that the item is not what they are ‘looking for’.
Do not meet in a car park, lay-by or at the address of someone you do not know unless you are going with at least one other person.
Ideally you should meet in a well-populated environment, possibly a venue with CCTV cameras. Again, if someone is not confident meeting in a ‘safe’ environment, then walk away.
During the meeting
When the potential buyer arrives, take the make, model and registration mark of any car or motorcycle used if you don’t already know this and you can text message this information to a friend or family member who knows about the meeting.
Although you have been sent identification documents, ask to see the original and take a copy. It will act as a bit of a deterrent for people; someone will be less likely to attempt to steal from you if you can provide police with a positive identification if the buyer does not conclude the deal.
Keep a mobile phone turned on and within reach.
Know your route.
If you are taking someone out for a test drive, make sure a friend or family member knows the planned route, estimated return time and your mobile phone number.
Keep buyers in sight.
If a buyer arrives with an entourage, do not let the people separate, especially at your home. If you are wary of the buyers, do not allow access, or limit where in your home they are.
If it is a postal or courier transaction
If you are sending goods, then make sure that the items have to be signed for with identification, address and any other relevant details. It costs more to do this but gives an audit trail, especially if it is a high value item.
Is the deal too good?
Is the item far too cheap? Then there is a possibility it is a fake, stolen or does not work and will not come with any form of warranty – it is buyer beware.
If it is a cash transaction, then some buyers use counterfeit currency; some of it will pass a brief inspection, but using an ultraviolet torch will show you quickly that there is a problem with the money.
Are you shown an item in a bag?
A genuine item can be shown to a buyer in a carrier bag, the bag is closed and swapped for one that is roughly the same weight and the amount agreed paid buy the unsuspecting buyer. Take the item for sale out of the bag, so you see what is being bought, bring your own bag to put it in – the more unique the better – and place it where both parties can see it.
Payment
There are different ways you can pay for goods: cash, cheque, banker’s draft, bank transfer or ESCROW. Each method of payment has potential dangers; be careful. Cash, cheques and banker’s drafts can be forged or counterfeited. DO NOT pay using a money transfer company such as Western Union or Moneygram; it is for transferring money between people who already know each other well. CHAPS payment has a fee attached and is irrevocable. If you are paying on a website, then make sure that it has encrypted payment facilities.
The only time that your PIN will be requested is when you use an ATM – never divulge this information otherwise.
Fraudulent schemes
Police again warn of becoming a victim of scams involving alleged lottery winnings.
In the last month, an elderly woman received a number of telephone calls claiming she had won hundreds of thousands of pounds in a USA lottery and was instructed to send cash and cheques to different addresses in the UK to pay for various taxes, before she could receive any money.
Schemes such as these can perpetrated by people cold calling by telephone, attending at their home address, via unsolicited letters, emails or sending texts. Fraudsters can claim to represent various organisations, including banks, financial institutions, government bodies and even lottery operators, as well as masquerading as seemingly reputable businesses.
While it is common practice to carry out transactions over the phone or the internet, take nothing for granted. Never give out any personal information, including bank details, to any unknown agency. If you are unsure, take details of the company and check out their credentials. Personal information should not be shared until you are entirely satisfied that the person you are doing business with is legitimate and reputable.
If something appears too good to be true, then it usually is. If you have any concerns or information regarding fraudulent activity, contact Police Scotland on 101.

Police Scotland, local community Telephone: 101 for non emergencies.
The community officer for Kinross-shire is Sadie Allan.
Email: sadie.allan@scotland.pnn.police.uk
The Community Sergeant for Kinross, Auchterarder and Crieff is Sandra Williams.
Email: sandra.williams@scotland.pnn.police.uk

Crime Stoppers – Telephone 0800 555 111
This telephone number is a free phone number (unless you are using a mobile phone), which any member of the public can contact at any time if you have information relating to a criminal activity of any sort. It is, if you wish, confidential and you cannot be contacted if you choose to remain anonymous.

Police recruiting
Police Scotland are due to hold information sessions in Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness to assist people thinking of becoming a police officer or special constable. The candidate briefing sessions will detail the recruitment process and give advice on submitting a strong application. The sessions are open to anyone interested in applying to become a police officer or special constable, but who haven’t yet started completing their application form.
Police Scotland are still recruiting both police officers and special constables and have a number of vacancies in the Tayside, Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire and Moray, and Highlands and Islands areas.
Candidate briefing sessions will be held at Baluniefield Police Office, Baluniefield Drive in Dundee from 6.30pm until 7.45pm on Thursday 4 September, Wednesday 8 October and Thursday 6 November and on other dates in Aberdeen and Inverness.
Pre-registering a place is essential. To book a place, either call the recruitment team on 01224 306684 or email: policerecruitmentaberdeen@scotland.pnn.police.uk
For more information look for ‘recruitment news’ on the website www.scotland.police.uk