Staying Safe on Craigslist


It’s garage sale season, and in these days that translates to the “online” version of a garage sale too – Craigslist.
There are usually some great local deals to be found on the site, but there are always a few bad apples as well. Here are some behaviors to keep an eye out for, both to protect yourself financially, as well as to ensure your personal safety:
If you’re buying:

  • Make sure to buy locally, and don’t wire or send money. There’s no regulatory body on Craigslist, so if you never receive your purchase, you’re probably out of luck.

  • Only do business with people who will meet face-to-face. Even if they say they are local, they may not be.

  • If you’re meeting with a seller to pick up a purchase, try to meet somewhere public, like a gas station or restaurant. If you’re required to pick something up from a home, bring a friend and let others know where you’re going.

If you’re selling:


  • Don’t use your home phone number, address, or real email in the post. Your number can be traced to your physical address, so use a cell phone instead. Additionally, Craigslist can mask your email if you choose to use it as a contact method, but NOT if you include it in the body of your post.

  • Don’t work with people who want to pay through wired funds, cashier’s check, money order, etc. If it turns out the payment is fake, you could be on the hook for the money.

  • Don’t ever accept more money than you’re charging – for example, someone gives you a $300 check for a $200 item and asks for a $100 refund. Chances are the check isn’t good.

The most important thing for buyers and sellers and alike is to trust your instincts. If something feels off, or too good to be true, it probably is!