Craigslist Safety Tips | How To Safetly Sell or Buy On Craigslist (2024)

Are you selling or buying something off Craigslist for the first time? Our seven Craigslist precautions will help prepare you for your first transaction!

1. Always use a proxy email address or phone number

2. Plan details in advance

3. Meet in public and bring a friend

4. Stay safe when a buyer comes to your house

5. Use a secure form of payment

6. Trust your instincts when vetting buyers

7. Always inspect items before forking over the cash

Old clothes, furniture, automobiles—you can buy or sell almost anything on Craigslist or other popular sites, like Facebook Marketplace. According to Statistics Brain, 40 million new classified ads are published on Craigslist every month.

If you've heard some of the horror stories of online marketplaces, don't be nervous. As long as you follow Craigslist precautions, selling items online is a great way to clean out clutter while making extra money. Here are important tips on how to sell on Craigslist safely.

Always use a proxy email address or phone number

Craigslist provides proxy email addresses to sellers, and it's a good idea to use them so browsers can't spam your actual email address. Once a potential buyer is truly interested, however, it's okay to switch communication to your cell phone; most buyers appreciate being able to text. If you're the one browsing, send questions to sellers through an email address you solely use for Craigslist.

Plan details in advance

You don't want a meeting with a stranger to go sour, so establish the selling price, type of payment, time and place for the meeting, and any special circ*mstances, such as a title exchanges, before agreeing to meet in person.

Meet in public and bring a friend

If meeting with a Craigslist contact to buy or sell a small item, take along a buddy and meet in a public place. Where should you meet for a Craigslist transaction? Coffee shops, shopping centers or even the parking lot of the local police station are all possibilities. Keep your cell phone handy and turned on during the meeting.

SoSecure by ADTcan help make you feel safer when you meet with a potential Craigslist buyer or seller. If you’re feeling uncomfortable, you can discreetly reach out to ADT or request a time for them to reach out to you after you meeting to make sure it ran smoothly.

Stay safe when a buyer comes to your house

If you're selling furniture or other large items, the buyer will probably come to your home. Use these Craigslist precautions to make the transaction more comfortable.

  • Get the buyer's full name and cell phone number prior to meeting. Text them an hour in advance to confirm they are coming. This way, if there's a problem, you have their information in your phone.
  • If at all possible, move the item into your garage or driveway prior to the meeting. Keep the garage door open during your meeting, and lock the entrance to your home.
  • Have a family member or friend at home with you.
  • Meet during the daytime. If that isn't possible, make sure to turn on as many lights as possible around the area where you'll be standing.
  • Install ahome security systemand ensure that your cameras are pointing towards the area where the transaction takes place.

If you're the one buying, bring a friend with you. If that's not possible, make certain to let a friend or family member know where you're going, who you're meeting with and the time of the meeting. Don't enter the seller's home unless it's absolutely necessary, and keep your cell phone within reach.

Use a secure form of payment

One of the most important Craigslist precautions is to be wary of scammers. In almost all cases, you are best off accepting cash for a Craigslist sale. Personal checks can bounce, and scammers can fake cashier's checks and money orders.

If the transaction is for an expensive item, such as a car, meet the seller at the bank, and have them draw and deliver the cashier's check right then and there. Never agree to wire money, accept wired money or take a check for more than the purchase price.

Secure online payments are another safe, reliable way to accept or make payments for a range of transaction types. These services allow you to send and receive money without sharing your credit card or bank account details. PayPal, Venmo and Zelle are all good options.

Trust your instincts when vetting buyers

Possibly the most important Craigslist precaution is that there's no substitute for your intuition. If something seems too good to be true, or just doesn't feel right, listen to that little voice or uneasy feeling. Don't be embarrassed to walk away from a transaction that sets off red flags.

Knowing how to sell on Craigslist safely boils down to common sense and general precautions. Don't let a few horror stories scare you away from this fairly easy and lucrative way to declutter.

Inspect the item and make sure it’s working properly

Once you pay for the item, it’s yours, whether it’s usable or not.

Turn the item on and off, inspect it for cracks, breaks or other weaknesses. Ensure that it’s clean and accurate to the original Craigslist description. It’s also a good idea to bring along any questions you may have about how the item works, especially if it’s electronic.

If the seller refuses to unwrap the item, you should walk away. A common scam for many smaller electronics like smartphones is to wrap them neatly in a box or shrink-wrapped plastic, claiming that it’s new. But once you get home and you unwrap the box, you’ll find a pre-used or broken phone, or the item is missing completely.

Craigslist Safety Tips | How To Safetly Sell or Buy On Craigslist (2024)

FAQs

Craigslist Safety Tips | How To Safetly Sell or Buy On Craigslist? ›

Craigslist does not back any transaction on its site. If you receive an email or text trying to sell you purchase protection, you're looking at a scam. There is no such thing as a Craigslist voicemail service. If a contact asks you to access or check your “Craigslist voicemails,” you're dealing with a scammer.

How to safely buy from Craigslist? ›

6 WAYS TO AVOID GETTING SCAMMED ON CRAIGSLIST
  1. Deal locally. It's always safest to finalize a transaction in person. ...
  2. Examine the product before finalizing a sale. ...
  3. Don't accept or send a cashier's check, certified check or money order as payment. ...
  4. Use cash — safely. ...
  5. Don't share your personal information.

What should I be careful of on Craigslist? ›

There are some common Craigslist scams that you can spot quickly and avoid once you are familiar with how they work.
  • Middleman scam. It's a common scam in the rental industry. ...
  • Escrow fraud. ...
  • Job scams. ...
  • Email recovery scams. ...
  • Buyer scams. ...
  • Seller scams.
Jan 10, 2024

How to spot fake Craigslist responses? ›

Craigslist does not back any transaction on its site. If you receive an email or text trying to sell you purchase protection, you're looking at a scam. There is no such thing as a Craigslist voicemail service. If a contact asks you to access or check your “Craigslist voicemails,” you're dealing with a scammer.

How do you sell effectively on Craigslist? ›

6 Pro Tips for Selling Items on Craigslist
  1. Create a new email address specifically for selling on Craigslist. ...
  2. Group items with a unique “keyword.” ...
  3. Keep buyer inquiry emails organized. ...
  4. Save your backup buyers' email addresses. ...
  5. Check out potential buyers before agreeing to meet. ...
  6. Delete and repost items after 48 hours.
Feb 19, 2024

How do I sell on Craigslist safely near me? ›

Tips for safe selling on Craigslist
  1. Never give out your address to any buyer.
  2. Meet buyers in a visible, public, well-lit place, such as a police station or grocery store parking lot.
  3. Take a friend with you or let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return.
Jul 25, 2022

What is the safest payment method when selling on Craigslist? ›

One of the most important Craigslist precautions is to be wary of scammers. In almost all cases, you are best off accepting cash for a Craigslist sale. Personal checks can bounce, and scammers can fake cashier's checks and money orders.

What should I not do when selling on Craigslist? ›

For more Craigslist online safety tips, visit the service's Avoiding Scams page.
  1. Never Use Your Real Email Address.
  2. Shop Locally When Possible.
  3. Meet in a Public Place and Don't Go Alone.
  4. Never Give Out Personal or Financial Information.
  5. Avoid Using Money-Wiring Services.
  6. Never Buy Something Without Seeing It in Person First.
Apr 24, 2022

How to spot a rental scammer on Craigslist? ›

What are the most common signs of a rental scam? Rental scams often have listings with prices that seem too good to be true. They might pressure you to make quick decisions, ask for rent or deposit without a signed lease, or avoid meeting in person.

Can Craigslist seller see my email? ›

Craigslist provides a "cover" email address that is forwarded to the recipient's actual email address. Only Craigslist knows the real email addresses of both parties. This way, if one of the people involved turns out to be untrustworthy, they don't have the other person's email address.

Why do Craigslist buyers ask for a phone number? ›

If a Craigslist scammer has your phone number and gets you to verify a code sent to that number, they can use it to open a Google Voice account. With that account, they can continue running scams using your phone number.

How do I make sure I am not being scammed on Craigslist? ›

5 Ways to Avoid Getting Scammed on Craigslist
  1. Check the URL to be sure you're not on a bogus look-alike site. ...
  2. Deal locally so you can finalize a sale in person. ...
  3. Examine the product in person before finalizing a sale. ...
  4. Don't send a money order or wire transfer as payment for an item. ...
  5. Don't share your personal information.

How to verify a Craigslist buyer? ›

  1. Talk to the person on the phone, if possible, about the deal. If you have to email them first to make the initial contact, ask them for their phone number so you can talk more about the item. ...
  2. Meet the person you're doing business with in a public place, such as a coffee shop. ...
  3. Complete your transaction in cash.

Should you put your phone number on Craigslist? ›

Scammers are getting pretty sneaky and are collecting personal phone numbers through Craigslist Ads. Case in point, when you're placing an ad or responding to an ad, avoid using your personal phone number to communicate with buyers or sellers.

How do I protect myself from selling on Craigslist? ›

Omit any personal information about yourself when you create your Craigslist ad. Do not include your phone number, a permanent email address or anything in photos of your product that someone could use to find your house or place of business.

Is it better to sell on Marketplace or Craigslist? ›

Facebook Marketplace is better than Craigslist if you're trying to sell merchandise as fast as possible. Listing is easier, and same goes for messaging potential buyers and arranging sales. The downside of the Facebook Marketplace is that you can't post services, so it's just for resellers.

How to avoid getting scammed on Craigslist? ›

5 Ways to Avoid Getting Scammed on Craigslist
  1. Check the URL to be sure you're not on a bogus look-alike site. ...
  2. Deal locally so you can finalize a sale in person. ...
  3. Examine the product in person before finalizing a sale. ...
  4. Don't send a money order or wire transfer as payment for an item. ...
  5. Don't share your personal information.

How to verify a Craigslist seller? ›

Count the money in the public location that you've chosen to meet to verify that the money is all there. This is the only way to verify that your transaction is legitimate, and an honest seller will have no problem allowing you to take the necessary precautions to ensure you're getting what you are paying for.

How to buy tickets on Craigslist without getting scammed? ›

Tips for Avoiding Ticket Scams
  1. Ask the seller for their account #. ...
  2. Always meet in person, if possible. ...
  3. If the person is mailing you the tickets make sure you get some type of written receipt or contract via email stating when and how the tickets will be delivered/sent.

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