I intend to try to sell a laptop on Gumtree. Since this is my first time selling something online, my knowledge of this is near zero.

I've researched the safest ways to sell items on Gumtree and I've decided that I'll ask the buyer to come over, inspect the item, and upon approval of its condition, close the deal. The problem I see is the method of receiving payment. Since I intend to sell the laptop for 800+, cash is not an option.

I thought that I'd ask for payment to be made through Paypal but then I remembered some of its irritating policies and the buyer's ability to ask for a refund.

After that, I thought that I'd just give the buyer the sort code and account number to my bank account and ask for the money to be transferred. This is the only option I feel like I have left. However, the buyer will also known my address so I'm not sure if it's safe for me to disclose this much information.

Is there a safe, foolproof method of making the sale and receiving the payment?

  • 4
    Why is cash not an option? If you’re worried about theft, just agree to meet at your bank and deposit the money straight away.
    – Lawrence
    Jul 28, 2019 at 16:29
  • 5
    "I intend to sell the laptop for 800+; so cash is not an option" A couple weeks ago I bought a motorcyle for $7000 cash. I went to my bank and got 70 $100 bills and handed to the guy. He handed me a clear title and bill-of-sale. Safe for me, safe for him, relatively easy transaction.
    – Ron Beyer
    Jul 28, 2019 at 18:03
  • 2
    Venmo is an option. Cash is fine, $800 isn't absurd.
    – Rocky
    Jul 28, 2019 at 18:03
  • 1
    @Rocky does Venmo work outside the US? Jul 28, 2019 at 18:36
  • I've never used Gumtree. Do they have an FAQ or any help material that describes how transactions are typically carried out? Have you done any research on available options, other than cash and PayPal?
    – dwizum
    Jul 29, 2019 at 12:57

2 Answers 2


It's almost entirely safe to give out your sort code and account number. You already do this if you ever write a cheque, for example.

There is a small risk that someone could set up a fraudulent direct debit in your name. But those can only be to organisations that accept direct debits so there's not much motive to do it, and you'd be able to reverse it as soon as you notice.

It's highly unlikely that someone could use your address + account details to get any other access to your bank account. If they did it would probably be negligence on the part of the bank.

The only difficulty with a bank transfer is that it's not guaranteed to arrive immediately, so if you're trying to do the transaction in person it could be a bit tricky. The sender would also need to be able to trigger the payment while at your house, e.g. from their phone.

In most cases payments do arrive immediately (so called "faster payments"), but you'd still be reliant on your online account view updating quickly enough to be able to see that it had arrived.

You might also be able to use "Paym" for this. Once you've registered a bank account to receive money, the sender just needs your mobile number. However I'm not sure if it solves the problem of being able to verify the payment immediately. According to their FAQ, payments can take up to two hours but most are received immediately.

  • Paym is usually limited to £250 per day.
    – vclaw
    Jul 28, 2019 at 23:18
  • Paym uses Faster Payments "under the hood" so would be no better (or worse) regarding verification. Regarding the limit: "You can send up to £250 a day, although you may be offered a higher daily limit by your bank or building society" so the sender may have a higher limit, or may be able to ask for one, depending on their bank.
    – TripeHound
    Jul 29, 2019 at 7:01
  • @TripeHound Does it provide faster confirmation, e.g. via SMS? Jul 29, 2019 at 7:13
  • @GaneshSittampalam I don't know; never used it. It can't provide faster payment than Faster Payments, because it uses Faster Payments (if that sentence is not too confusing!). Whether it could text the recipient when the money is received (as opposed to when it was sent) would depend on whether FP has an "is completed" trigger. But if I was waiting for a payment to confirm (FP or PayM) I'd probably just have my banking app open and refresh periodically).
    – TripeHound
    Jul 29, 2019 at 7:20
  • 2
    @MSalters regardless, it doesn't seem at all relevant. Everyone in the UK uses sort code+account number for GBP payments, not an IBAN. IBANs typically just encode the bank name+sort code+account number anyway, so aren't any more secure from the point of view of leaking account details, even if you choose to make everyone's life more difficult by trying to use them. Jul 30, 2019 at 7:51

Cash is an option. It's less common than in Europe, but 40 £20 notes are not that difficult to count or keep secure. If you are worried about security, you also need to worry about the "purchaser" just running off with the laptop without even pretending to pay.

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