Buying and selling just about anything online is commonplace nowadays. You’ve got the common, everyday items that people sell through online marketplaces, like second-hand furniture and cars, to some of the more weird and wonderful things that people want to get rid of or seek out.
Craigslist has proven to be a longstanding platform for people to sell their wares or look for a bargain. What’s the attraction to Craigslist for both buyers and sellers? First, it uses a very simple interface that’s easy to navigate and use and it’s become familiar for being the way it is. Its popularity has also made it a place for scammers to try their luck. How do you stay ahead of the Craigslist game? Here are a few of our safety tips for avoiding the most common Craigslist scams.
Look Out for Common Warning Signs
Craiglist works as a bulletin board. That’s probably why it’s so popular and why so many took to it so quickly. For the most part, the same signs that a listing may be a scam on a physical bulletin board apply to Craiglist, too. What are some of the most obvious warning signs?
First, if any seller requests you to wire transfer money to them before you’ve received any item, steer clear! This might sound obvious but many have been pressured or conned with sweet or sorrowful tales from the other end, parting them from their money. Better yet – pay in person and in cash!
If you’ve seen the very same post for the same item while looking through Craiglist earlier and begin to notice that the identical posting pops up numerous times, make a mental note of it and stay away. This is usually enough to raise suspicions.
If a Craiglist user messages requesting you to use PayPal and then follows that up by sending you a link to sign up – don’t click the link! This is a common phishing scam that allows you to basically hand your details over to them without you being any the wiser.
Don’t Accept Money Orders or Wire Transfers
On Craiglist and many sites like it, many potential buyers attempt to “pay” you using a wire transfer. What they usually hope to happen is to send you an email with a fake proof of payment from a well-known bank like Western Union, when you will then send the item that you’re selling to them. In most cases, these wire transfers didn’t happen and they’ve simply cleverly (or often not so cleverly) manipulated a document to look like a proof of payment to convince you that they’ve paid. Simply put, it’s best to not accept money orders or wire transfers as payment on Craigslist.
Do Your Research
You’ve probably done your research on the product that you’re looking to purchase on Craigslist to make sure it’s to your requirements. Have you made a point of researching the buyer or seller who you’re interacting with? It’s something that many of us seem to forget, but when our money and valuables are in question, it’s something we need to become more conscious about. Use any personal information that you’ve got about the buyer or seller and plug it into a people-finder site like Nuwber. If they’ve ever scammed or tried to scam, anyone, chances are that it’s on publicly-accessible record.
Remove Geotags from Photos and Keep Your Location Private
When putting images up on the item that you’re selling, you rarely think that any other information is stored along with the photo itself. For example, if you’re selling your car, you’ll probably make sure to put up photos of the car that don’t give away the location that it’s parked overnight. While you may make sure that street names are out of the photo itself, ensure that your iPhone’s photos are not geo-tagged, giving away exact location details about where the photo was taken in the photo’s data. This applies to Androids, too, so double-check your settings!