Child-Predators are out there. Bottom-line. The internet is a fishing tank for these people. If you list your child's photo online while selling clothing or just as part of your profile- READ THIS.
There is good money in Selling childrens' clothing. If you put effort into your auctions - you will nearly always make A LOT more money per item on Ebay than you would ever at a Yard Sale or selling to a consigment shop. And as fast as kids grow out of clothing, all the more you need to buy up! But parents of children, toddlers and infants NEED to know how to SAFELY sell clothing on Ebay to protect your children.
I am so guilty of using my kids' photos... the ad's look better, there isn't any better way to display clothing (well, short of a mannequin). You can use those adorable pictures ... sure... but you have to do so with your eyes open.
The following was a warning I recieved from a sheriff acquaintance and it is all too serious to not pass along:
"You wouldn't put a $20 bill on the ground and walk away thinking it would be there when you come back.
You don't go in at night with your keys still in your car or your purse in plain sight.
Why would you be just as careless with something that is priceless?"
If you are on the internet and post your children's pictures, think about this:
"A person selling clothing on the internet used photos of her son to show the clothing. Nothing special about the photo - just a candid picture of her kid last holiday waving. The buyer seemed completely unremarkable... paid promptly, no complaints.... nothing seemed even slightly abnormal about that purchase. Under $5 including shipping - just a plain outfit. It wasn't until several months later that something came of this run-of-the-mill purchase... this person was a child predator - no record - and they used this purchase for the mailing address. This person silently stalked the family for months... waited until the child was left with a teenage sitter and when she was distracted... this person lured the child out of the yard and abducted that little boy."
What should parents do to protect their children?
- Simple, parents use your work address or even better yet - a PO Box to recieve payments. Mark the return address on the item you are shipping as your PO Box or work address. Don't state that this is your work - you don't need to (*and besides, it doesn't matter) - as long as it is addressed to you - your mail gets to you. Be certain to update this address with not only your Ebay profile but any other payment methods you accept (such as your Paypal account).
- Even better yet, you can sign up to ONLY accept payment by Paypal (a very safe and secure online payment collection medium)... This way you don't have to worry about watching for a Money Order at work or frequently checking a PO Box... again though, you should mark the address on your Paypal account as something other than your home address. When you are buying something, have it shipped to your work or other alternative address, NOT your house.
- Also, update your phone number on Ebay and Paypal, a simple web search by your phone number can reveal your address, along wtih mapped out directions! Use a Cellular or your Office Number.
- You can go a step further to copy-guard your pictures. A lot of auction software providers have the option in place already. Auctiva, the free company I use, and Seller Sourcebook the other company I used to work with for listing ads, both have this feature. (*That feature prevents people from right-click and copying your photos to their computer for more on this see my other guide on how to save $ on Ebay selling fees.)
- Another important step to take could be to edit your photos using your photo shop software to simply blur out your child's face. Also, just adding a big dot over their face works. Or you can zoom in on the outfit which cuts your child's head partly or completely out of the photo. Or have your child glancing downward or off to the side, that way they don't see their faces front on. Please use your head and NEVER use a photo of your child in swimwear. Even when you crop out your child's face or hide it, their body is still there to be lusted over by these pervs.
- DO NOT USE YOUR CHILD'S ACTUAL NAME or NICKNAME ANYWHERE IN YOUR AUCTIONS OR PROFILES. ("Maggie really loved this outfit"..) Just like the old advice police tell you, don't put your child's name on their clothing... same reason. If they know your child's name - your child (no matter how much stranger-danger teaching you do) they are still likely to follow this person because they know their name. Do don't list your child's name in your auction or profile. You can use made-up names.
- Also, use general locations (not your actual city) - i.e. say Dallas instead of that nearby small town where you live. Or better yet just leave it at "Texas".
Here awhile back, my mother had a pair of jeans that she had purchased at a yard sale for a quarter - nothing special about them - just toddler jeans (*not even a big brand either) - I listed them - loaded with pics of my tot "modeling" them - thinking I might get a buck out of them.... they sold for $38.50 after an intense bidding war ensued at the auction end between 3 bidders. Proud of my "super-sell" my mom and I bragged about it until someone said "that could've been someone that just wanting to get their hands on a pair of pants that your little eye-candy had on just to sniff the crotch".
Sick, yes? Did it scare the be-jesus out of us - you bet. It was like someone punched me!
Now in all fairness... we have no reason to even THINK that this person had an alterer motive other than they really wanted those jeans. (*But come on! $38.50 for a USED pair of faded toddler Levis?!) But that is just it. You don't know if Jane is a Jane or John is a John. You don't know ANYTHING about your buyer or anyone on the internet. A true pro won't send up flags. That is how they strike. They could say they are a grandma or a mom and you would never know any better!
Add to that the previous story... a very real reason to pay attention... it isn't a day that goes by, it seems, anymore that we don't hear about a missing child, or some other horror story on the National News.
Like it or not, this seems to be the world we are living in and this is all too real and serious to not take a few precautions. This isn't told to scare people out of selling on Ebay. I think it is one of the greatest things ever invented. Ebay goes a long way to protect their members. But once you commit to a sell - your information will be provided for the other party to pay with.
You wouldn't give a stranger a photo of your child, or your address and certainly not your kids names... why do people do this online, why introduce your children to a WORLD full of strangers on the internet? Sure there is a sense of pride for your adorable little cherubs and you want to share their images to the rest of the world.... plus it goes back to, other than a maniquin, there isn't any better way to attractively display the clothing...
They won't be obvious if they are bent on evil intentions. Just please know that when you use your child's picture, the WORLD can see it - ANYONE and EVERYONE, good or bad. Same if you use their name or nickname. It is some valuable inside information that they can use.
Now, editing your photos isn't that difficult to do...even if you don't have photo shop software, simply step in closer with the camera to where it cuts part or all of their head off in the photo (or have them glance downward and off to the side or hold their hands up to their face...use a prop like their nose stuck in a book... you still get the wonderful image of the garment you are trying to sell.
Same goes with using any photo shop program to put a dot over their face. The first time I saw this was when I clicked on a +$900 toddler pageant gown. I just wanted to see what a +$900 multi-bids toddler item looked like - seeing that I am not into the baby pageant world - it seems outragous to me.... so I clicked on this auction to show a very cute typical looking JonBenet type tot dolled up and on their face was a big blue dot. Seemed odd to me, but after being on here for a while I finally figured it out what that dot was all about.
But even going that far isn't enough....
I am a stay-at-home mom of three young children. Ebay is how I make extra money to purchase my child's next needs... it is a wonderful tool and I think all mom's should buy and sell on Ebay - and do your buying though me! (HA!)
Bottomline, just be smart in how you sell - protect your children - and enjoy Ebaying!
(*Please, if you think this guide is helpful, click the button below ~ Thank you to all who have voted this as a helpful guide ~ Sellers please feel free to include a link to this in your auctions if you would like - I just want to get the word out and offer some precaution warnings to all parents who sell childrens clothing on Ebay and to everyone with younge children who use the internet!)