You don't need to give your address to some shady guy on the Internet.
There's no shortage of horror stories related to trading, shopping and selling items online through websites like Kijiji and Facebook Marketplace. But the days of giving your address to a sketchy stranger on the Internet are over. Laval police just launched the area's first "neutral meeting zone," which allows residents to exchange goods in a safe, supervised place — and similar spaces already exist in Montreal.
"The use of online goods trading and resale sites, such as Kijiji and Marketplace are booming. Unfortunately, there is an increase in theft and fraud during face-to-face meetings. This space aims to offer citizens a safe place to conduct their exchanges and thus prevent thefts and assaults," Laval police explained in a news release.
This zone — which is accessible at all times and filmed 24 hours a day — is located in the police headquarters parking lot at 2911, boulevard Chomedey. It's very close to the CHSLD de Laval and the Carrefour Multisports at the intersections of boulevards Saint-Elzéar Ouest and Chomedey.
The "neutral meeting zone" will be the first in a series, and the Laval police force says similar spaces will be available in the spring of 2022.
But just because there's camera surveillance and these spaces are secure, police say you should still take some security measures upon yourself.
The Laval police force advises taking screenshots of the advertisement, seller's information, and all communications between the parties. It also suggests verifying the name of the person you're meeting with using online search engines and never transmitting personal information or going to exchange location alone.
Finally, the police recommend prioritizing payment methods by Interac e-transfer to limit the risk of scams.
The Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) created Montreal's first safe space to meet online traders in 2019.
"To help prevent fraud, the SPVM offers trading zones for those buying and selling online via Internet classified sites. These safe zones are spaces under video surveillance that allow you to meet the people with whom an online transaction has been made and to exchange the goods sold," says the SPVM website.
Montreal police say more safe trading zones may open in the city at a later date.
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