How to Stay Safe on Craigslist

Jill Vonier

Jill Vonier

4 min read

We've written a lot about all the things that you should do when using Craigslist. Here is a list of the top things that you absolutely never want to do.

Stop sign

We write a lot about what to do on Craigslist, but now it's time to talk about what not to do.

Craigslist is a popular online marketplace that allows you to buy and sell just about anything you have to just about anyone in your local area. While the platform strives to provide a safe environment for these marketplace transactions, you will need to take some cautionary steps to protect yourself as well.

Here we discuss some things you should never do when conducting business on Craigslist to protect you from privacy concerns and scams. Read on to learn what not to do on Craigslist.

Do NOT Give Out Personal Information

While you probably already know not to give out your personal information, such as your full name, email, address, or phone number, hiding your personal information can be harder than you think.

During the selling process, you may find out it's a lot easier to just give out your phone number for direct communication or send your address to have a buyer come look at your couch for sale. After all, hauling a couch somewhere takes a lot more effort especially if the buyer isn't completely settled on buying from you. However, giving away this information can open you up to scammers and bad actors stealing your identity or taking advantage of you in other ways.

Craigslist does have certain measures in place to protect your privacy, such as hiding your email account and phone number. However, it's up to you to take those extra steps to never give this information away.

Do NOT Send Money Before Receiving the Goods

Transferring money via an app on a cellphone

A tricky part of buying on Craigslist is figuring out how to conduct a proper transaction.

When buying something on Craigslist, you may be asked by a potential buyer to send a wire transfer, send a cashier's check, or a money order before you receive the goods.

This is a common Craigslist scam where the seller convinces you to send money through one of these methods but then never sends you the goods. If the seller process your payment and then fails to come through with the goods, you'll have no way of recouping your loss.

Always be wary of anyone who asks you to do this. Instead, be sure to deal locally and evaluate the item in person before ever handing over money.

Do NOT Accept Personal or Cashier Checks

Similarly, when selling on Craigslist, you may be asked to accept a check or cashier's check for your item. This may seem like a normal method of payment, but a bad or fake check can seem to clear right away but then bounce days later.

This is a common Craigslist scam where you think a payment has processed, hand over the goods to the buyer, and then a few days later realize the check bounced. By then, the buyer is long gone and there's no way to recoup your loss.

Always insist on meeting the buyer or seller in person and never send money to someone you don't know.

Do NOT Send Money Out of State

Craigslist was originally designed for selling and buying items locally. By following this general rule, you can deal with people nearby and avoid most scams. Be sure to avoid making deals with people who are out of state or out of the country. Dealing with people out of state makes it nearly impossible to meet in person to transact payment and goods, and almost always requires sending or receiving the type of payments mentioned above.

Out of state transactions are another common Craigslist scam and is often difficult to recover your money if something goes wrong.

However, if you do decide to deal with someone who is out of state or out of the country, make sure to do your due diligence and research the person before making any type of deal.

We recommend always dealing locally so you can meet in person and avoid potential scams.

Do NOT Send/Accept Large Amounts of Money

Spread of $100 dollar bills

People can buy or sell just about anything on Craigslist, including cars, boats, RVs, and other items that can cost a lot of money.

If you're selling or purchasing these type of items, take extra precaution before accepting or sending large amounts of money. Take the needed time to verify that the person you're dealing with is who they say they are.

It's also best to get the bank involved whenever possible to ensure everything goes through smoothly.

Overall, Craigslist is a great platform for buying and selling items and can go smoothly when you take the right steps. It's important to always be cautious and protect yourself.

All of these best practices are handled for you when you use a service like OfferTrackr. Use OfferTrackr to automatically track the availability of your items, negotiate prices, schedule pickups, and send out reminders. Read about all the benefits in our blog post Using OfferTrackr to Make Selling Items Locally So Much Easier.

By following these tips, you can avoid scams and other problems on the site. If you don't feel good about a Craigslist transaction or something a buyer/seller does, take a step back to evaluate the situation and consider walking away from the deal.


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