The Dos and Don’ts of Safe Face-To-Face Bitcoin Trading
Not everybody is willing to trust a Bitcoin exchange or buy Bitcoins direct from another user via the internet. Then there is the issue of all the documentation that you need to use an exchange as outlined in what do you need to buy Bitcoin. For some of these reasons, there are people who would rather buy Bitcoin in face-to-face transactions – where both buyer and seller can meet in person. In fact there are websites like LocalBitcoins that will help you find a seller or buyer and arrange a price and meeting. But beware of these types of transactions as it can hold some degree of risk that you may not have considered.
Take What You Need To Transact
Ensure that you have a mobile device, be it your phone, tablet or laptop, when trading in Bitcoin. It has to be able to connect to the internet so a mobile or wireless internet facility is necessary, as well as being in an area of adequate coverage. Whether you are the buyer or seller, it is best to verify the trade (transfer of Bitcoin from one wallet to another) on your own device rather than using the other party’s device where you may leak sensitive information. You should also ensure that you already have a Bitcoin wallet if you are the buyer.
Meet in a Public Place
No matter what type of situation it is, you should always choose a public setting when meeting a stranger. You will most likely be meeting with large amounts of cash in hand if you are doing a face-to-face Bitcoin transaction as a buyer. This adds to the potential risk and a public venue is therefore essential. Never meet in your home or similar private settings. You could be putting yourself and even your family at risk as there are criminals who would capitalize on this opportunity under the pretext of wanting to trade in Bitcoin.
Never Go Alone
For the same reasons as mentioned above, it is advisable that you never go alone if you are the buyer who is carrying cash. Once again a criminal may take advantage of the situation to rob you of the cash you have without giving you anything in return – in this case Bitcoins. It could turn out even worse and you may be physically harmed. But sellers should also be cautious. The value of the Bitcoin these days could mean the the buyer will rob you and force you to transfer Bitcoins to their wallet without forking out the cash. A less likely situation but nevertheless possible.
Pre-Agree Upon The Price
Haggling about price with a stranger can sometimes lead to unpleasant situations. Negotiate a price ahead of time and if possible even use an escrow service. This not only protects the buyer and seller but it also makes the entire deal much smoother in that the seller is guaranteed payment and the buyer can be assured of receiving the digital currency before releasing payment. Do not try to get a better rate with a seller after having agreed upon the price. Similar try not to squeeze more money out of the buyer if you already committed to the price. It is this last minute greed or thrifty behavior that can make things go sour quickly.
Meetups for Safety in Numbers
There are meetups where many buyers and sellers arrange to meet at a convenient venue. This obviously makes it much safer to transact and there is the added advantage of the exchange of information about Bitcoin and related matters which could be helpful. Try to stick to a meetup in your city or town as criminals could stage what seems like a legitimate meetup to rob a big buyer with lots of cash on them. In some major cities there are open-air events where people solely deal in buying and selling Bitcoin, much like a flea market or swap meet. These are known as Satoshi Squares and may be a better option than the personally arranged meetup or smaller meetups among strangers.