Although many online shopping outlets are safer than they’ve ever been, there is one website that can still seem like the Wild West for people who are unprepared for its various idiosyncrasies: Craigslist. If you’re looking to trade or purchase a product on this site, it’s imperative that you take the steps necessary to avoid not only a scam, but also the physical harm that can befall you when you elect to meet a seller in person. A report out of Ohio explains how to bolster safety.
Craigslist itself doesn’t offer the same security that other sites like Amazon and eBay do. The website doesn’t act as a mediator for transactions and it doesn’t verify identities. It’s thus up to you to protect yourself from being taken advantage of financially.
If someone ever asks for access to something like your bank account, credit card, or Social Security Number, move along. The deal is likely too good to be true. You also shouldn’t wire the seller anything through MoneyGram and Western Union.
What’s particularly disheartening is the fact that you can even be the seller and find yourself falling prey to a scam. Typical frauds involve a person agreeing to purchase your product and then sending you a money order or a cashier’s check. Further investigation by the bank might then reveal that the payment is fraudulent. You’ll be on the line for the money even as you’ve lost the very item you attempted to sell in the first place.
The single best way to avoid most scams is to only communicate with local dealers so that you can meet the individual in person. However, this poses its own challenges, as you want to make sure you’re safe when you meet the other party.
To that end, see if you can speak with the buyer or seller on the phone prior to your meet. When you’re setting up the meet, stick to busy locations in the daytime. A dangerous person will be far less likely to try something untoward at such times. And bring a trusted acquaintance with you for backup.
Take particular caution when large transactions are taking place. If you’re buying something expensive, like furniture, jewelry, or a motor vehicle, you should make plans to view the product in person prior to any money changing hands. The same goes for when you’re looking to rent out some form of housing. The pictures might look great, but they can be taken from another source. Before you purchase, you should visit the residence while taking the aforementioned meet-up safety precautions.
Finally, follow your gut. If alarm bells start to go off, then simply back out of the deal. There are other fish in the sea.