Don't get scammed!
Here are some guidelines that will reduce the risk. Note that these apply to large transactions -- I don't think you need to be too paranoid if the transaction is a couple cheap items, for example. If it's a notebook or some other expensive item, you need to be careful.
- The Buyer Pays first
Never send anything out before receiving payment! You have to receive payment before sending out the item. If the buyer doesn't agree with that, then they'll have to find the item somewhere else.
Personal cheques: make sure to hold on to the item while the cheque clears. 7 days should be enough for Canada, but if it's a high amount, wait 14 business days just to be on the safe side.
Paypal is not a bank and is not federally regulated. As such, they make their own rules.
- Don't use it for large amounts!
This is the most important Paypal rule. Unless you know the person, don't use it for high dollar values (I consider $100+ to be "high"). Why? Keep reading.
- Use trackable shipping
People who pay via Paypal can simply state that they never received the item and they'll get their money refunded. Paypal always favours the buyer. So you'll receive payment, send out the item, the person will claim they never got it, and you lose your money unless you can prove that the person received it. In the past, regular package tracking has been enough to prove this.
Canadapost's Xpresspost is trackable and costs a few dollars more than regular parcel post.
- Beware of buyers that are in a hurry
Another Paypal scam is to use a stolen credit card or hacked Paypal account. They'll send you the money and ask you to ship it overnight because they're in a hurry. Meanwhile, Paypal finds out the account is bogus or the credit card is invalid and cancels the payment. So you lose the money and the package.
- Be cautious with new members
This seems pretty obvious, but if you don't know someone, you can't trust them. Unless someone else can vouch for them or they've been a long-time member it's best to be wary. Ask for references (e.g. ebay). If if doesn't feel right, don't go through with it.
- Use cheques
Mail fraud is a crime. Personal/certified cheques are traceable by authorities. Banks check IDs and keep records. A scammer is less apt to cash your cheque and run (though it can happen) if they're asked for ID. That said, it's still a huge hassle to trace cheques, especially for small amounts.
On the other hand, wired money ("Western Union"), money orders, & cash are not traceable. Say bye to your money if you have a dispute with these.
- Verify their info
Use http://www.canada411.ca/ to verify a person's info.
Try their phone number in a Reverse Lookup
Call them to confirm if you're uneasy.
Anyone have any more tips? I'll add 'em!