Aside from the perhaps obvious suggestion not to buy a laptop from someone selling it on the street, how do you go about buying a second hand laptop that isn’t stolen? The last thing you want is to have the police knocking on your door to get back a stolen laptop, which leaves you with no laptop, lost cash and possibly being investigated for Possession of Stolen Property.
There are ways you can protect your purchase, if you follow these tips.
You’ll want to run through some basic questions with the seller, to determine if you want to proceed with the purchase.
If you aren’t happy with the answers from the seller, don’t proceed.
People attempting to sell stolen laptops often sell them at bargain prices or try to sell you a bundle of goods. If you think the deal is too good to be true, step back and consider it may be stolen. These are all ‘red flags’ that should make you reconsider your purchase.
When buying a computer second-hand, it is always safest to use a reputable dealer with a well-established location, or a “refurbished” computer from the manufacturer. Pawn shops are required to maintain records on items, and check them against law enforcement databases, but they are not always a sure thing.
If you are buying the laptop online, you have fewer ways to verify the laptop isn’t stolen or to interact with the seller. You may be fed misleading information or may pay for a laptop that never arrives. We suggest you buy only on sites that offer buyer protections. Online classified sites are higher risk for purchases, so be sure to run through the precautions above before purchase.
No matter what buying option you pursue, ensure you keep all communication with the seller, get a written proof of purchase, and only pay using a credit card.
If you are purchasing a used smartphone, we also have tips on how to avoid buying a stolen phone.