Q: My kids want to make money by selling their things online. Is that safe?
A: While selling used toys, books, and video games online can be a great way to recycle goods and make some money, most sites require users to be 18 years of age. A credit card or bank account is also generally required. Most importantly, the element of privacy and online safety is a big consideration when it comes to kids and online auctions or classified sites. Connecting with strangers and exchanging personal information — maybe even meeting up in public to deliver an item to a buyer — involves risks kids should never take without adult supervision. This doesn’t mean, however, that parents and kids can’t work together to sell their wares. In fact, working as a parent/child team might net something even more valuable than extra money, like extra opportunities to talk about online safety and money management. The most important rule when it comes to selling stuff online is parental supervision. Accounts on sites designed to sell items should be set up by a parent and communication, delivery arrangements, and payment transactions should be under parental control. With this in mind, follow these suggestions to cash in on old stuff:Explore your options. Take time to understand the different types of sites. Auction sites like eBay allow sellers to post items for sale online for a fee and may take a part of the seller’s profit. Craigslist is free and works much like traditional classified advertisements.Consider specialized sites. There are sites specifically designed for certain merchandise categories. Glyde.com offers a marketplace for books, CDs, DVDs, and helps with shipping via a nifty prepaid package. Gazelle.com focuses on electronics like digital cameras, games, MP3 players, and cell phones.Try points instead of cash. You can earn points by mailing old video games and movies into Goozex.com (which provides a handy printable shipping label) then cash in the points on the site to purchase new games and movies. Paperbackswap.com and BookMooch.com let you swap books based on a point system for just the cost of postage.Use your own social network. Friends and families you know might love to purchase your child’s old wooden train collection or swap sports equipment. Set up a virtual sale announcement on Facebook or send out a private sale notice through email and let your inner circle know about the deals your child has to offer.Beware of phishing scams. These faceless scammers pose as potential buyers, luring in sellers with promises of paying the asking price or higher. The catch is that you must send money in advance or they send bogus cashier checks or money orders. It’s an old scam — but to kids, the deal can sound sweet. Watch out for misspelled words, payment via Western Union, or the request for personal information. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. For more details about online fraud, go to fraudguides.com/internet-craigslist-scams.asp