The most wonderful time of the year is here and that means it’s also a popular time to donate, sell or give away your old items. If you turn to an e-commerce site like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, there are some tips to keep in mind to make sure you stay safe for the holidays.

“Number one, insist on going to a public place,” said Capt. Bob Wooldridge, with the Knoxville Police Department. 

Capt. Wooldridge says he has seen one too many cases where a person is ripped off or robbed because of a bad transaction. 

“We don’t want anybody to be a victim, especially during Christmas.”

If you’re buying, selling or trading items with someone you met online, one of the safest places to do that exchange happens to be at a police station.

“Our police department is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. We do have video camera systems, we do have officers coming and going.”

Police departments across East Tennessee have taken the steps to designate specific areas outside their buildings known as safe exchange zones. Agreeing to meet up with a stranger online at these locations will help ensure your safety. 

“If they’re legit and they have no problems with it, then they’re meet you there. If they’re hinky or don’t want to meet in a public police department, odds are, something isn’t right.”

Trust your instincts. Do not meet in a secluded place, or invite strangers into your home.

When you go to a public spot, tell a friend or family member and consider bringing them with you. 

“If there’s any problems at all, you just don’t feel right about this after you’re talking to this individual, then it’s best to listen to that little voice, that sixth sense, and not go through with any transactions or any meeting.”

The Knoxville Police Department recommends transactions take place during daylight hours.