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On the "public place" note, many police stations provide locations for safe transactions of this nature. If a buyer or seller balks at meeting at a police station it's probably not someone you want to deal with.

For a phone one might meet at your wireless providers retail outlet.

Definitely also a good suggestion. Especially for Verizon (and maybe also Sprint?) to make sure the phone can register to your account.

I really like this idea.

Genuinely useful. I did not know this.

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