For anyone selling merchandise or looking to buy, Craigslist was the go-to destination. It was easy to post your merchandise, easy to reply and easy to arrange to pick up the items. And then the inevitable happened, which seems to always happen when something as easy to use as Craigslist comes along – the cyber thieves got involved, the crooks saw an opportunity to scam Craigslist users and the wonderful Craigslist tool became the go-to place of scammers and rip-off artists.
It’s sad, very sad.
So what are those scams that people are pulling over on Craigslist users? Let’s take a look at some of the top ones, so you’ll know what to avoid. Familiarize yourself with these and then be sure to constantly do your due diligence to ensure that a new one hasn’t popped up that you may fall victim to!
Top Scams on Craigslist
The top one that can really hurt is when a listing doesn’t require a credit check for an expensive item, like a home or a car. The bad people are out there to get your personal information, and if they do, you’re headed for huge debt.
There’s another scam that should be obvious but generally isn’t: someone requests a wire transfer to simply steal your money without providing an item, or obtains your financial or bank information. They also may post an item for sale that they really don’t have, and even include a stock photo of the item.
Here’s a tip: you can see a pattern here, and the best advice is to stop this in its tracks. Here’s how: verify the person’s identity BEFORE you move forward with any transaction. You can use online tools like Nuwber to verify the person posting is really the person they say they are. You simply enter their phone number or other info, and you’ll get their true name and identity information.
Beware of Stock Photos
One of the typical tricks scammers use is to steal a photo from the Internet and claim it’s a photo of the item they’re trying to sell. Here’s how to determine if it’s a stock photo: right click on the image in the ad, then copy the link that appears. Go to: www.images.google.com and see if the image in the ad matches the ones posted by Google. If they do match, it’s a scam – the seller never took the photo in the first place.
Check Prices Online Before you Buy
It’s a very simple step, but most people don’t take prior to agreeing to view the vehicle in person. Just go to Kelley Blue Book’s website to see prices of the vehicle you’re interested in. You’ll see a range of prices and you can compare them to the ones the “seller” is asking. If they’re way out of line, you’ll know that the listing is most certainly a scam.
Beware of ID Theft
A lot of scammers want to call you rather than text, but you should never publish your real phone number online. Your best choice is to use Google Voice, so you can use a different phone number than your own, while still being able to accept calls and texts. Plus, you can use Craigslist’s proxy email that is offered whenever you post an item on their site.
There are some basic safety measures you can take when it comes to paying for the transaction or receiving money for an item. If a seller asks you to wire funds, end the transaction. The fact is, anyone who asks for a wire transfer is out to scam you. If you’re the seller, never accept a cashier’s check or a certified check. Your bank will accept that “check,” and a week or so later you’ll be hit with a bounced check fee and the amount of the check will be deleted from your bank account. Always ask for or use cash!
Here’s something else: avoid using PayPal for your transaction. The reason is that paying via PayPal is one of the top Craigslist scams. Scammers can create a phony PayPal site that looks exactly like PayPal, only when you enter your information, it will be used to steal your financial data and money.
One of the biggest warnings is to always maintain your personal safety. Never agree to meet someone you’ve never met before in a secluded place or at some remote parking lot. Always insist you meet in a public place like a bank, or a coffee shop. Bring a friend along, or at the very least, let your friend know where you’re meeting.
Alternatives to Craigslist
Something else to consider is using an alternative to Craigslist. Sites like LetGo and OfferUp are good choices, and there are many others available. There is also NextDoor, a neighbourhood site that allows posting of merchandise. Plus, you’ll have the advantage of knowing that the person you’re selling to or buying from is someone that lives in your area.
Following these simple precautions will keep your Craigslist transaction safe and secure!