How To Sell Safely on Craigslist

Craigslist took the idea of basic classified ads and expanded it into a website. Now it has become a community and changed e-commerce forever.

Like classified ads posted in newspapers or magazines, Craigslist reminds people that they have no control over the advertisements posted on the site. With the number of visitors the site receives everyday, it is especially hard to check whether all the transactions are legitimate.

There have been instances wherein scammers have infiltrated the Craigslist community. These individuals used the old scam of sending checks to pay for items. In fact, the checks were often greater than the seller's asking price. After the item in question has been sent to the buyer, the check bounces.

Here are some simple tips to help you keep safe while selling on Craigslist:

  • Check the terms of use. If you are new to Craigslist, make sure you know what you can and cannot sell on the site. While there are a lot of quirky and eccentric items for sale on Craigslist, posting ads for illegal items is still forbidden. Even as a prank, this may cause your account to be suspended, and cause the police to take an interest in you.
  • Be honest when describing the item for sale. Post a picture, specifics and dimensions if necessary. Some buyers become irritable if they cannot understand what kind of item you are selling. This also protects you, since you were upfront about the state of your product.
  • No personal information. Do not post any personal details. This includes e-mail addresses, phone numbers, residence and place of work. If you want to add a phone number so they can contact you, use an unlisted number. Others may try to trace your home address through the number.
  • Deal locally. It is easier to deal with people in the same area. Communicating with people that are farther away is more risky. For one, you cannot meet them in person to conduct business face-to-face. Most of the scam artists on Craigslist will pretend to be living far away so that they will not need to meet you. This way they can come up with several methods to perpetuate a scam while trying to purchase your item.
  • No shipping charges or wiring money. If the buyer starts giving several reasons for additional charges, this can be the sign of a scam. Refuse to pay for charges you are not familiar with.
  • Be safe when meeting. Try not to meet the prospective buyer at home. It is best to meet in a crowded area during the day. If it cannot be avoided, do not allow the buyer into your home when you are by yourself.
  • Payment first. Before sending the item to the person that bought it, make sure you have received the payment. It is best to exchange cash for the product in person. This way there is no chance of the buyer saying that the payment is on its way or was lost in the mail.
  • Transact in cash. The safest way is to deal in cash. Even bank transfers and money orders may be problematic.


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