Yard sales can be moneymakers if you outwit crooked shoppers - AmericaNowNews.com

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Yard sales can be moneymakers if you outwit crooked shoppers

  • ConsumerYard sales can be moneymakers if you outwit crooked shoppersMore>>

  • Yard sale mapping

    Yard sale mapping

    As the saying goes, the early bird catches the worm and that is certainly the case when it comes to yard sales. Here's how you can get a jump on other shoppers.

Running a yard sale is just as hectic as running your own store for a day. You have to open extra early, be attentive to the cash register, and haggle for every dollar you make. You also have to be on the lookout for crooks!

Once you have cleaned your house, and put a price on every personal possession you can't wait to get rid of, hosting a yard sale can be a rewarding event, until the crooks show up. 

Unless you have wired your garage sale with security cameras and shoplifting sensors, your weekend event is probably wide open to scam artists and thieves.

Expert Lynda Hammond describes herself as "The Garage Sale Gal." She even has a website dedicated to garage sale fanatics offering tips to make your sale as flawless as possible.

Hammond says there are ways to protect yourself when hosting a garage sale.

"Keep in mind, criminals like to work in groups," Hammond said.

The most common crime is known as a 'quick-change scam.'

Typically, two people try to buy a low-cost item using a large cash bill and ask for change.

There's a lot of talking, moving items and counting change, all of which is intended to confuse the busy seller.

Often, the duo will quickly walk away with a wad of cash, and without ever handing over their payment.

Hammond recommends sellers take their time counting change, and keep all payments in plain sight.

"It ain't pretty, but put a fanny pack around you," Hammond said.

Using a box to store all your cash bills may keep your money organized, but a money box can quickly disappear if you're not paying attention.

Don't ever accept a check unless you're willing to write off a bad one, and don't ever accept big bills unless you're sure they aren't bogus.

"Fifties are pretty rare at garage sales, but I do see them passed, and usually, they're fake," she said.

To avoid a counterfeit bill, just tell the buyer you can't make change.

Don't assume that since you put a sticker on every item, the price will stick. Removing or switching tags is a common rip off.

"One of the best things to do to get ready for the sale is to not price anything," Hammond said.

The reason why, is because pricing items is not only tedious, but time consuming.

"You will make more money," she said.

Your junk is someone else's new treasure. So let them offer a price. If you know its very valuable, keep it close to you at the register so it won't disappear.

"I would also tell you, don't sell them at a garage sale," she said.

Instead, have your more expensive items appraised, and attempt getting your money's worth at an auction, pawn shop or antique dealer.

One of the most important tips is to not host a yard sale by yourself. Get your friends, family and children involved because it gives you an extra set of hands and eyes on your merchandise.

It can also be a great lesson on early entrepreneurship.

Remember, rip offs can work both ways. So, be sure to check under any price tag, sticker or piece of tape to make sure the seller isn't using it to cover up a chip, stain, or tear.

Copyright 2013 America Now. All rights reserved.

Additional Information:

The following information is from Lynda Hammond's website, GarageSaleGal.com (Source: http://www.garagesalegal.com/).

  • Lynda Hammond is a 15-year veteran of TV news who fell in love with garage sales after being dragged to one by a friend.
  • She started a website for garage sale enthusiasts called GarageSaleGal.com as a place to look for and list sales. She offers the following tips:

1. Make colorful signs that can't be missed but don't put too much detail on them. People can't read that at 30 mph. Instead just say "SALE" with an arrow.

2. Group things together: kitchen items, toys, furniture, electronics, etc.

3. Have plenty of change.

4. Have it on a weekday, you get the on the way to work and on the way to school crowd.

5. If you let them name the price, you will often get more $.

6 Get ready for a garage sale by accumulating over time...make a garage sale pile.

7. Put everything waist level and eye level.

8. If you don't' have a lot, go with a multi-family yard sale.

9. Don't include a picture unless you can take A GOOD picture.

  • If you don't feel safe, have your yard sale at a friend's house, a church or a community sale.

The following information is from YardSaleQueen.com (Source: http://www.yardsalequeen.com/yardsale-garagesale-scams.htm).

  • Distraction is a common tactic. Scammers bring small children to take attention off their shoplifting.
  • Shoplifters may swipe an item out of a box, then leave the box on the table.
  • Sellers can cover up defects, stains or chips with a sticker price or tape.
  • Leave bills in plain sight as you make change. Scammers will claim that they gave you a larger bill then they actually did.
  • When someone buys a large item, check inside it.
  • Find out if there are any restrictions in your neighborhood, home owner's association or local government regarding garage sales. Some require a permit.
  • Make sure your signs abide by local always.
  • Make sure you have enough parking for at least 4-5 cars near your home at one time.
  • Don't pick a holiday weekend
  • Keep your pets away
  • Put clothes on cheap hangars you are willing to give away.
  • Do not accept checks unless you are willing to take the risk of getting a bad check.

The following information is from eHow.com (Source: http://www.ehow.com/how_2124296_spot-quick-change-scams.html).

  • Typically two people work together. One distracts the seller by talking a lot.
  • Most try to buy a low-cost item with a $100 bill and ask for change.
  • The con artist tries to confuse you by telling you that they want change in a different way or they want to pay with smaller bills.
  • They walk away without ever giving you the bill, but you have given them change.
  • Keep the bill on the register in front of you and slowly count out the change, placing it in their hand.

The following information is from Money.msn.com (Source: http://money.msn.com/how-to-budget/how-to-hold-a-hit-yard-sale).

  • Don't compete with other dates. Keep in mind that people get their checks at the end of the month and therefore have more disposable income the first weekend.
  • Have enough items. Shoppers will drive by small sales. If you don't have enough to fill your yard, ask your neighbors to join.
  • Let your kids sell lemonade or their old toys.
  • Kids' clothes, kitchen appliances, books, DVDs and other small items sell well. Collectibles and furniture are harder to move.
  • Dust and clean the items.
  • Keep valuables near your checkout table so they don't "go missing."
  • Keep an extension cord handy so people can test out electrical items.
  • Have bags and newspaper for bagging.
  • Watch out for tag changing and shoplifting.
  • Have a calculator on hand.
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