How to be Safe When Using Craigslist


Craigslist is a great resource for social networking, selling and buying goods or services and finding a job. However, in order to be safe when using Craigslist, you need to be careful when conducting business. Just as with any other open market system, there are both good and bad people on Craigslist. If you are able to recognize the difference and take minimal precautions, you can be safe when using Craigslist.

Things You'll Need

  • Internet access
  • Computer
  • Think before you meet. If you must meet someone in person to either exchange goods or to start a social group, your first meeting should always be held in a public place. Always let a friend or family member know where you are going and when you plan on returning.

  • Never let your guard down. Even once you have met the other individual and start to feel comfortable, never let your guard down. Unfortunately, some people are professionals when it comes to scamming. Do not agree to "go some place quieter."

  • Never post or exchange personal information. This includes such things as your home address, along with any financial information.

  • Be sure to always have a contract. Many people use Craigslist to arrange freelance work. Whether it be writing, Web site design or anything else, never do the work without a detailed contract.

  • Deal locally. When looking to buy or sell, try to arrange the transaction with someone from your area. This is relatively easy since Craigslist is organized by location.

  • Never wire money. If a person is only willing to sell you something after you wire them the agreed upon money, this is a sure sign of a scam. Wire transfers are not traceable and cannot be cancelled.

  • Avoid paying shipping services. If a transaction requires you pay extra for the cost of either a shipping or escrow service, this is most likely a scam. If not possible to exchange face to face, all goods should be sent via mail or a recognized delivery system such as UPS, FedEx or DHL.

Tips & Warnings

  • Craigslist is in no way involved in any transaction. They cannot be held liable for any problems, so it is up to you to keep yourself safe.
  • If you suspect a posting is a scam, send details to Craigslist (see below). Include the post URL or reference number in the email.
  • If a person refuses to meet face to face, do not go through with the transaction. This is a sure sign of a scam.
  • Fake cashier checks and money orders are common. Banks will cash them and hold you responsible when the fake is discovered weeks later.
  • Under no circumstances should you post or send your bank account or credit card numbers. Use a safe, third party method to conduct transactions, such as Pay Pal or e-Gold.
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