Craigslist is an online classified advertisement source in the United States that includes sections for on-sale items, community service, discussion forums, jobs, houses, gigs, and résumés. Currently, over 700 cities and areas in 70 countries have had Craigslist sites since 2012. Craigslist is a handy tool, especially for buying and selling products. The interface of the website is simple to use and is open to a lot of opportunities. But just like any other website, Сraigslist, too, has its list of fraudsters.
According to a 2014 study by New York University, 1.5 percent of the real estate lists on craigslist were fake. This means out of 29,000 listings about 2,000,000 were fake across 20 cities. Because this study only looked at real estate, site-wide figures are unknown.
Although the number of counterfeit listings is small, it can cost innocent buyers and sellers their financial security and money. According to Apartment List, nearly 43 percent of Americans have come across a fraudulent rental, and 5.2 million have lost money because of a rental scheme.
Some of the most common Craigslist scams are:
- Fake jobs: Posting job ads and then asking people to buy a product that will later be returned to them with their salary is a common method of scamming people on Craigslist. This type of scam takes advantage of people in need who are willing to do strange things under the pressure of finding work.
- The “You were overpaid” scam: Frauds on Craigslist often ask the sellers to send them the “overpaid” money back. Happens with bigger items like vehicles and property rentals.
- Fake “Escrow” Websites: The crooks use a phony website to build your trust in them and keep both your funds and also your personal information at stake.
Top 3 Safety Tips for Avoiding the Most Common Craigslist Scams
Here are some safety tips you can follow to keep your money safe while using the popular online marketplace. Looking for a new house or trying to sell your iPhone, here is what you need to know to stay safe and avoid scams on Craigslist:
1. Keep Your Payments Offline
No matter how trustable a buyer or seller might sound online, it is still risky to let them access your personal information, especially financial information. There is most likely a chance if you pay online, you may never get the product, or if you receive it, it might turn out to be a fake one.
It is better to finalize the transactions offline once you have selected your desired product on Craigslist. When buying something, don’t rely solely on the pictures. Request to inspect the item in person.
In case you are dealing with a local person, using cash instead of going for electronic payment is another way of keeping things safe at your end. To keep the transaction even more secure, make it at a safe meetup place. This can be your community police station, a shopping mall, or even a public park. Just somewhere that is secure and has many people around so you can get help in case things go wrong. Selecting a well-lit, heavily trafficked parking lot is the goal that has regular parking enforcement and also police for security purposes.
In the case of oversized items such as furniture or home appliances, you can visit Dolly. Dolly is a Craigslist online pickup service that will help you with the heavy stuff. This will keep you away from all the fears of meeting a stranger and will easily get your product right at your place, without any possible human contact. Even better for following social distancing measures!
2. Identity Verification
Verification of both the service and the one who is providing the service is significant while using Craigslist. It is essential to cross-check every bit of information they have provided you with during your conversation to get the deal. Scammers have many ways of hiding their true identity behind fake names and credentials. If you are not precautious enough, you might fall for their manipulative traps.
Along with identification methods such as online verification, another way to make sure you do not fall for a scammer’s trap is Nuwber, where you can confirm whether the person you are talking to has a real identity or not.
3. Keep Your Identity Safe
To avoid identity theft, keep your personal information as secure as possible. As a seller on the website, make sure to use the site’s proxy email address feature, so you don’t have to give your email address.
You can also avoid giving your phone number using Google Voice. It allows receiving calls and texts on your phone using a different phone number. The number you get is free of cost and disposable, which means it will expire after 30 days of no use.
Another thing to be careful about if you are a seller on Craigslist: many smartphones embed data about where the photo was taken. Before posting pictures of an item for sale, make sure to delete any personal information. For instance, be cautious and remove any geotagging that could assist others in determining your location or address. You can do this by using deGeo, which is a geotag remover.
Craigslist is an excellent website for buying and selling, getting opportunities for new jobs, and even meeting new people. However, precautionary steps should be taken before making a deal or contacting someone on Craigslist. Proper investigation and being proactive is the best way to use this website. Keeping transactions local and paying in cash will keep transactions safe which is profitable for both buyers and sellers.