Spring cleaning safety: tips for selling items online

It is essential to take precautionary measures while selling items online to ensure your safety. Marquette University Police Department Assistant Chief Jeff Kranz suggests the campus community keeps the following tips in mind if selling items through websites like Facebook Marketplace.


  • Ensure photos do not disclose any personal information. A mailing address, a vehicle’s license plate number or family photographs can serve as tools for online predators. 
  • Take safety measures when giving out your contact information. Sharing your phone number may result in unwanted calls or even harassment. If you choose to answer questions about the item, consider using an email address instead of your phone number. Check if your email platform offers a linked email address or use an anonymous account instead of disclosing your primary email name.  
  • Request their phone number. If you find the buyer seems legitimate, verify that they are not a fraud by calling them. If they respond, have a short phone conversation about the item for sale and decide if the person still seems legitimate. Pay attention to the area code. This detail may indicate if they live near you. 
  • Make the payment expectation clear. Make sure the buyer understands you only accept cash or use a cash app. Only hand over the item once you have received full payment. 


  • Don’t let the buyer control the transaction. When meeting the buyer, ensure you maintain control of the interaction. Select a prearranged public location of your choice, such as the lobby of MUPD or other locations provided by the police. Never meet at a residence, especially your own.
  • Don’t meet up with potential buyers alone. Always bring a friend along for added safety. Remain aware of your surroundings even after the transaction is complete, as you could be followed from your location, particularly if cash is involved. 
  • Don’t overshare personal information. Sharing personal information can create a safety issue. Remember, any personal information you disclose can potentially be exploited by individuals with malicious intentions. 

“Remember most buyers from out of the area are not real,” says Assistant Chief Kranz. “If something makes you feel uncomfortable trust your instincts.” 

As you prepare to clean out your closets and homes this spring, remember that MUPD is always available as a resource if you encounter any safety concerns during online selling interactions. By understanding and implementing these tips, you can take proactive measures to stay safe while decluttering and selling items online.  

Save MUPD’s numbers into your phone in case needed:

MUPD Emergency 
(414) 288-1911 

MUPD Non-Emergency 
(414) 288-6800