Financial Puzzle

Don't Get Scammed: Craigslist Safety

Each month, across the country, Craigslist is used by millions. Buy, sell, trade, look for a job, find a landscaper, have discussions, finding love is even on the table. Whatever you fancy, more often than not, Craigslist can cater. Sadly, you aren’t dealing with a seller you can check Google reviews. Your buyer? Well, you’ve heard the stories. It’s a site of strangers; there’s always going to be a few bad eggs and more that are half-boiled at best. Taking preventative procedures helps ensure craigslist meet-ups run smoothly.

There’s the obvious tips. Don’t give your address. Meet in a public place. See if your local sheriff’s office has safe drop off locations. Still, you can always go that extra mile. Doesn’t hurt to be safe. Protect your address? How about never giving out any real contact information, email or phone number? Using a craigslist proxy e-mail address doesn’t share your real email address, but when you respond it does. The solution? Use temporary email addresses. Try Mailinator or GishPuppy to completely cover your profile.

Additionally, get a Google voice number. You download the app, sign up and use the number just for craigslist. That number will get messages forwarded to your current number. It allows privacy and still allows you to give out a phone number.

Craigslist, more times than not, offers solid services, buyers and sellers, but scammers do exist. Understanding what scammers do is important. Anyone offering to pay you via money wiring service is an immediate flag. To be honest, I cannot think of one legitimate reason this would ever happen. You see this, it’s a scam. It’s happened to me, someone offered to wire the money to me in exchange for an item. They “couldn’t get me the money any other way”. That’s a sign that’s somethings not right. Check out this example:

Scam Text

Similarly, knowing general safety practices improves your Craigslist experience. Only accept cash. Checks, in general, are completely outdated and electronic processing takes a few days. Accepting checks or online payments leaves the possibility of not being 100% sure you have been paid after handing over an item. When the item’s gone, you aren’t likely to stand a chance getting it back regardless of if a check clears. Furthermore, always go see the item in person before deciding to make a purchase; pictures can be deceiving.

When going to see the item in person, find a meeting place that’s not your home or work. This is more important than money; this is safety! Pick a public place where there are bystanders around. Bring a friend along to ensure the transaction goes smoothly. From personal experience, I have accompanied a friend to sell item just to make sure he wasn’t getting ripped off. It’s solid for peace of mind as well. Help a friend, help yourself, don’t go it alone.

Use your head, be safe and enjoy all that Craigslist has to offer. There are diamonds to be had in that online heap!

Craigslist listing

Craigslist listing

Craigslist listing

About Colin

ACU logoI’m Colin McCabe, the newest Communications Specialist at Arapahoe CU. A recent college graduate from Colorado State University, I carry a background in writing and communications. I joined the team here with minimal experience in the banking industry, but this has presented a unique opportunity. Working at Arapahoe CU is complete immersion into personal finance, something that’s foreign to me. Luckily, I am surrounded by financial experts working for a not-for-profit. They provide stories, experience, resources and tools. Combining communications skills with my ever growing financial knowledge, I’m here to share perspective, work and the resources surrounding me. The Financial Puzzle was created for this reason.

Of course, my path towards financial success is just one of many and the credit union is here to help all. If there is an issue or topic you are interested in, let me know! I will get the staff working on your answer and help you avoid the inaccuracies laden in the internet’s search results.

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