Craigslist is an amazing do-it-yourself tool for everything from selling your car to renting a house. Unfortunately, Craigslist users must also stay alert to protect themselves from criminals and lowlifes who run a variety of clever scams on the website.
Whether you're buying or selling, there are some easy steps to take to help protect yourself from becoming the victim of a Craigslist scam. Here are five tips to consider:
- Deal locally with people you can meet in person. According to Craigslist, following this one rule allows you to avoid 99 percent of scam attempts.
- Never buy anything sight-unseen. If you haven't seen what you're buying, there's a good chance it might not actually exist.
- Don't divulge too much personal information. A Craigslist seller requesting personal info, like your bank account number or credit card number, should be a red flag. Fake Craigslist ads may lead to identity theft.
- Meet buyers in public places. This can be especially important when selling high-end or in-demand items. In one of many examples of what can go wrong, a Pennsylvania man was killed earlier this year when a convicted carjacker who responded to his Craigslist ad allegedly shot him and took off with his car.
- Don't take checks or money orders. According to Craigslist, fake cashier checks and money orders are common, and banks will hold you responsible for the money when the counterfeit checks are discovered.
For Victims of Craigslist Scams...
If you've been the victim of a Craigslist scam, don't hesitate to call the police. In some situations, you may also be able to take the fraudulent party to court. To learn more, check out our pages on Fraud and Consumer Scams.
- Online Scams (Findlaw)
- Posting a Fake Craigslist Personal Ad: Criminal Harassment (Findlaw's Legally Weird)
- 15 Online Behaviors That Make You Vulnerable to Scams (Findlaw's Common Law)
- Mom Tries to Sell Baby to Craigslist Contact (FindLaw's Blotter)