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How to Avoid Scams on Craigslist

Updated on February 25, 2012

What is Craigslist?

Craigslist is more than a free classified listing. With a different site for every major city, when used with sense, the site is a free way of building community in your local area. If you can avoid Craigslist scams, you can use this online experience to buy and sell stuff, to discuss your terrier, to meet someone if you are single, check out some used cars, or to network or promote yourself or your business.

Because Craigslist is free, and not well monitored, you need to avoid scams on Craigslist, where sharks and predators abound. However if you follow a few simple tips like those provided here, your experience should be rewarding. This article is a simple "how to" guide on how to avoid scams, at least on Craiglist

Sketchy Looking Craigslist

Avoid Scams on Craigslist

If you want to avoid Craigslist scams, a few basic principals need to be followed:

Think and Act Locally

Most of the hustlers and scam artists you will run into on Craiglist are fishing on a large scale for their marks, and so they are using automated robot programs to work the entire Internet, targeting everyplace Craigslist exists. If you avoid using Craigslist to buy, sell, job hunt, or whateve, in other regions than your own, you will cut down on a lot of sketchy schemes.

In other words, if you are placing an add, or answering one, it should be from someone nearby, like within driving distance. You should be able to communicate locally and make an appointment to go see for yourself if you like. This has the added benefit of not costing an arm and a leg for postage and insurance.

Anyone you are dealing with should be able to give you a local phone number, or just cross them off the list. It is not necessary to list your phone number or address initially, as that could lead to other problems, but once you have made a connection, whether its for a sale, or a prospective date, if someone won't share a phone number its probably not worth the risk, and may just be one of the sketchy scams on Craiglist.

If It Is Too Good To Be True..

If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you are trying to find a 65 mustang, and all the others are selling for thousands, yet someone wants to sell you theirs for $120, then you should not be surprised when the toy car is delivered in mint condition. Or if you have been unemployed for 7 months, and put in an add for a handyman, when a businessman from Paris emails you offering to "hire" you as their personal chauffeur when in town for the business trip, don't go rent that car for him, in your name -- even if he did send you a $500 or a $2000 retainer check. That check will bounce, but not before you are in a world of hurt for believing someone on Craigslist thinks you are a good driver.

Avoid Craigslist Scams By Keeping Your Vital Information Secure

Never give anyone personal data. Americans should always protect their social security number, and other vital data, like passwords, and that is especially true while avoiding Craigslist scams.

One precaution you should take is to always pay for things with a money order, and not a check. Some enterprising thief will take that check and use the routing numbers and other data from the bottom of the check to set up an "automatic payment" that you might not notice for several months. By then they have bled your account dry and closed their phony business.

While many of these scams are not unique to Craigslist, you can avoid Craiglist scams if you use these tips, and some common sense, when dealing with the "wild west" of the untamed Internet. Knowing how to avoid scams on Craiglist will also serve you well with other Internet behemoths like Ebay and Amazon.

Photo credit Craigslistby Infomofo

Comments on How to Avoid Scams on Craigslist

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    • authorfriendly profile image

      authorfriendly 5 years ago from Charleston, SC


      Often giving out that routing number etc, can be one of the more risky things. Most of the scams related to the checks are from companies like credit collection agencies, or the scams on Craigslist that involve frequent smaller charges you might now notice.

    • Diana Grant profile image

      Diana Grant 5 years ago from London

      Very useful tips not just for Craigslist, but generally - I always thought cheques were safe, so now I will need to think again

    • authorfriendly profile image

      authorfriendly 5 years ago from Charleston, SC

      Ms Loki, and Marisupa,

      Thanks for your comments about my Craigslist scams tips, hope they will make your Craigslist experience safer and rewarding

    • Marisaupa profile image

      Marisaupa 5 years ago

      Thank you for a very informative Hub. It will come useful to me as I dabble in Craigslist for the first time.

      Yes, as bizarre as it may sound, I have never used Craigslist. For every other pillar, as well as fad, of the internet I have been there. From Twitter and Facebook to MySpace and Friendster. Heck, Amazon and Ebay seem like close intimate friends of mine. Incredibly Craigslist just never materialized for me.

      Now, however, either due to peer pressure, passive suggestion or simply my internal hunger for a really great bargain I am about to wade into Craigslist waters. Thanks to your Hub I am sure that I will be safer when doing so. Thanks again.

    • Mrs Loki profile image

      Mrs Loki 5 years ago

      Thanks for the hub, I do a lot of looking on Craigslist. Thanks for the tips.