That’s a really good question. I’m usually the one selling an instrument. People know who I am and my reputation for total honesty. So when someone agrees to buy a harp from me, they send me the full payment and then I deliver the harp. No one has ever questioned that situation to me.
But in a private sale a number of issues could come into question. Is the seller the rightful owner of the harp or is this stolen property? If the buyer has not personally examined the instrument nor had someone qualified examine it, is it what the seller says it is?
When I have bought used instruments, I have always examined the instrument first hand and have spoken to the owner and thereby evaluated the general situation and circumstances of the instrument and sale. I have always paid by check. I have always paid at the same time that I went to pick up the instrument.
I know for a fact that at least on one occasion in the past someone has lifted pictures and the description of an instrument I had for sale on my web site and used it as if the instrument was theirs. So there is something to be worried about here, particularly in internet sales.