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New online marketplace caters to service members

Jan. 31, 2011 - 10:28AM   |   Last Updated: Jan. 31, 2011 - 10:28AM  |  
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STAY SAFE AND AVOID FRAUD

Tips for buyers and sellers from SargesList and Craigslist:
• Try to deal with people you can meet in person.
• Limit the amount of personal information you provide — don’t give out your credit card numbers, Social Security number or other personal information.
• Don’t bite if a seller wants you to pay first and promises to send the item later — or likewise, if a buyer wants you to send the item and promises to pay you later.
• If you’re buying, get a signed receipt for the item. Before you pay for an item with a license — like a car — confirm with the state registration office that you are dealing with the true owner.
• Meet on base if possible to complete the transaction. Always meet in a public place. Don’t meet in a secluded location or invite strangers into your home.
• Be especially careful when buying or selling high-value items.
• Take your cell phone with you, and take a friend if possible.
• Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t seem right, leave immediately.
• Pay in cash or with a cashier’s check from a major bank, or PayPal. As a seller, before you hand over the item, go to the bank and confirm that the cashier’s check is valid.

A new global military marketplace could make it easier for you to unload unneeded stuff before your next permanent change-of-station move — and put some cash in your pocket.

The site, http://www.sargeslist.com/">www.SargesList.com, also could be your chance to pick up some items to furnish your next home — or books, CDs, musical instruments, electronics, toys … you name it.

The site just launched Jan. 17, so there weren't a lot of items advertised at press time. But some of the categories include furniture, books, toys, cars, spouse employment opportunities, and homes for sale or rent. There's a classified section for pets, too, including foster pets.

Let's be clear: SargesList.com doesn't eliminate the need for caution to avoid being scammed as a buyer or seller, or the need to take steps to ensure your personal safety when meeting with a buyer or seller.

But it could put you in touch with sellers at Fort Campbell, Ky., who are selling a perfectly good couch that won't fit in their quarters when they move overseas. Someone in Germany may be selling a European appliance as he prepares to move back to the U.S.

Why not just use Craigslist.org, a network of websites with local classifieds and forums? That's an option — but Craigslist is not established near every military community in the U.S. and overseas, said Lisa Klinkhammer, vice president of marketing for SargesList, which is owned by R & B Communications, a California information technology company.

On the new site, those using a ".mil" address will be given a "Paw Stamp" indicating they are in the military network, she said.

Meeting people on an installation gives an extra level of trust, she said — although it's no guarantee of a safe transaction. No website can guarantee that; in the end, they're all just transaction platforms.

SargesList is not limited to those with a .mil address, Klinkhammer said, because that would exclude spouses, retirees and others in civilian communities outside the gates who may want to buy and sell items. Registration and basic listings are free. Each free listing allows up to five photos and lasts for 14 days before expiring, but can be renewed for free.

Sellers can add features, for a price — such as extra photos ($1.99 per photo after the first five, up to 20 total); and placement upgrades for $7.99.

Buyers can search globally for items by using keywords, and can ask for e-mail alerts when specific items are listed.

Buyers and sellers do not have to list e-mail addresses publicly; they can message each other within the system. But unlike Craigslist, where anyone can contact a seller, a buyer must be registered on SargesList in order to contact a seller.

Klinkhammer said she saw a need for a central marketplace for military families over the past few years as she traveled with her company, a subcontractor that helped deploy the Defense Department's Automated Housing Referral Network, now available in the U.S. and at some overseas locations.

Installations had disparate tools for helping military families connect with one another to sell items, she said — installation newspaper classified advertising, or word of mouth — but nothing to connect families globally.

Klinkhammer said tweaks are being made to the system, including a section for free items.

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