How to Avoid Craigslist Scams
As an expert Craigslister, I have also had the unfortunate experience of running across people that were trying to scam me and my family. How to avoid scams on Craigslist is a vital part of learning what to do - and not to do - when buying and selling on Craigslist. Follow some of these tips and you can avoid being the next victim of unscrupulous people trying to scam you out of your money, possessions, and possibly even your life.
Tips for avoiding scams on Craigslist
The number #1 rule when dealing with people through Craigslist is to deal only with people that are local and that you can actually meet in person. The Craigslist website actually states that if you follow this one rule you will avoid 99% of the scams that people will try to perpetrate on you. Never even consider shipping a car or possessions to someone out of town, out of the state or even out of the country unless you have a personal guarantee that the person is legitimate and/or you know them.
- NEVER WIRE FUNDS VIA WESTERN UNION, MONEYGRAM or any other wire service. I was able to save my son from getting scammed by investigating a purchase he was going to make via Western Union. That story for more information on this type of scam is here: Craigslist Scams on the Internet: A True Story
- DO NOT ACCEPT MONEY ORDERS OR CASHIERS CHECKS when doing a transaction on Craigslist. The bank will actually cash these, and when they find out they are fake they will come back to you for the money. Only accept cash unless you are certain that the check is legitimate.
- DON'T BUY ITEMS WITHOUT SEEING THEM FIRST. Just because there is a photo of the item on the ad does not mean that it is actually the item you are buying. Wait till you see the item and can determine for yourself if it's worth the money and what you really want.
- DO NOT RENT HOUSING FROM SOMEONE UNLESS YOU CAN SEE THE INSIDE OF THE HOUSE FIRST and know that the person you are renting from is actually the owner and has the right to rent the property. With record foreclosures and many empty houses sitting abandoned, there have been people renting out empty houses that don't even belong to them. They will take your rent, and your deposit, then vanish.
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More tips on avoiding scams on Craigslist
With the rise in identity theft, it's really important never to give your financial information to anyone on Craigslist. Never give anyone your banking information or social security number either. If someone wants to run a background check on you for a job, make sure that you meet the person first and make sure they are who they say they are,
- AVOID DEALS WITH "GUARANTEES". There are no guarantees when buying and selling on Craigslist, only the persons word. You may buy a car and find out that it has more wrong with it than you realized. Take the car to a mechanic first before you buy it, or order a car-fax report on it.
- NEVER DEAL WITH SHIPPING OR ESCROW SERVICES for items you are purchasing. Many of these are also scams. And for the record, the Craigslist website itself is never involved with any transaction, they are only the means for connecting buyers and sellers. They offer no guarantees for things bought or sold on their site.
Violent crimes on Craigslist
Lastly, the very worst thing that can happen to you when buying or selling on Craigslist is the risk of bodily harm or even death. If an item seems too good to be true, it probably is. The worst case scenario of a scam on Craigslist was perpetrated on my youngest son. He responded to an ad on Craigslist for a car 3 years ago. He took 2 friends and even his wife with him to look at the car. When he met the person at a gas station they said that the car was "around the corner". When they went around the corner they were directed into a lot in the back of an apartment where the car for sale was sitting. After they got out and popped the hood open, 3 men came out of nowhere with guns drawn and demanded money. My son fought back and was actually shot in the head. Lucky for him he was able to get away and get to a hospital, where he was treated for a gunshot wound, which had gone vertically up the side of his head instead of horizontally. If the bullet had gone horizontal he would not be here today. He was also pistol whipped during the crime. Truly one of the worst examples of a Craigslist scam which ended up in violence.
If you want to avoid scams on Craigslist, please remember to take another look at these tips when considering a purchase, People can be very convincing and it's important not to throw caution to the wind and take any chances when buying or selling on Craigslist.