The website Craigslist has gained a reputation for being one of the most useful instruments for selling anything from garage sale leftovers to autos and boats, as well as finding or marketing jobs and housing. It has also been shrouded in controversy and tainted by shocking reports of theft, scandal, and violence. Here are some tips for using Craigslist safely and to your greatest advantage.
- Avoid attaching pictures to your ad that disclose your exact location or provide compromising information like license plate numbers or images of family members.
- Rather than give buyers your phone number as your primary contact, ask them to email you through Craigslist—the website disguises your actual e-mail address, but relays messages.
- Only accept cash as payment—personal checks can bounce and leave you without any means of recouping your loss. There has also been a history of fake certified and cashier's checks being used for purchases on Craigslist.
- If the deal feels wrong in any way, walk away. If someone offers you more money for your product than it's worth, it's likely a scam.
- The only personal information sellers need to know is your email address. Though some find it easier to negotiate or set up a meeting by phone, the same can be done through emails alone. Never give out your address or any additional identifying information that could put you at risk.
- Because you'll likely be buying with cash, you are placed in a vulnerable position—you are agreeing to meet a complete stranger who, after negotiating price, knows you'll have a specific amount of cash and knows exactly when and where to find you. Be wary.
- Meet in a busy public place, and if possible, bring friends. Always tell someone the exact details of where you're going, who you're meeting, and at what time. This holds true for those selling on Craigslist, too.
- If the seller demands money up-front for a service or as a deposit, especially when you wish to rent a property without seeing it first, you could be walking into a scam. Again, if it doesn't feel right, why risk it?
Until next time,
The Home Know-It-All