I Love a Good Craigslist Deal!
As a DIYer, I use Craigslist a LOT. I love a good Craigslist deal! I’m usually either selling something that I’ve replaced by something I’ve DIYed, or I’m looking for a new project to purchase. Growing up, we were always taught not to talk to strangers and we still teach this to our children.
But in the twenty-first century, technology has changed the way we interact with others. Many of the individuals we talk to on a regular basis are “online friends” or online individuals with which we are selling or buying an item or service. Even though a keyboard separates us, we should always remember that not all strangers can be trusted and not everyone’s intentions are pure.
Craigslist is HUGE!
According to Craigslist’s, more than 40 million people use the company’s online classifieds website each month in the United States alone. That’s a lot of people! But even with the billions of people meeting to transact business, Craigslist’s crime rate continues to be very low. Despite the low risks, however, dangers do still exist. For this very reason it is very important to know how to stay safe when conducting in-person business with strangers.
My Craigslist Rules
Here are my rules that I follow when I buy or sell on Craigslist:
- My first and foremost rule, I never “Craigslist” alone. I always take someone with me, preferably my husband. If he can’t go, I take a friend. I NEVER meet someone alone…whether at home or in public. It can be a pain to have to wait, but it’s worth it to make sure you are safe.
- I always meet to buy or sell during the day…never at night. If it’s an item I can easily transport, I arrange a meeting in a public place, perferable the parking lot of our local police precinct – I can’t think of a safer place .
- If they have to come to our home, I put the item in the garage (after I move a BUNCH of stuff out of the way!) or on the front porch. That way, they don’t have to enter our home.
- If it’s in the garage, when they arrive I just open the garage door fully. I also let my neighbor know that I have someone I don’t know coming over to make a purchase and they will usually arrange to be sitting on their porch around that time.
- If I’m buying something, I let the seller know up front that I won’t have cash with me. If I decide to purchase it, I’ll go to a nearby ATM and get the cash.
- I never use my real email address, always use Craigslist proxy email.
- I always have my cell phone (at close to 100% power!).
- Never wire money via Money Gram, Western Union or any wire service. You would think this would be obvious, but there’s a reason this scam is still going on…it works!
- NEVER accept checks – not cashier’s checks, not money orders and not personal checks! Technology has made it possible to make forgeries look real. If a bank cashes a fake check, you are responsible for those funds! The bank is not going to lose money, you are.
- I am extra careful if it’s a high end/high price item I’m selling or buying.
- If something feels weird, I end the meeting early. Don’t take chances. (Thank goodness, I’ve never had to do this!)
- And finally, if it sounds too good to be true, it normally is. I may miss out on a GREAT deal, but better safe and alive than something worse!
Join Other Buying and Selling Groups
If you are still not comfortable using Craigslist, join a local buyers exchange group. You can usually find groups like Swip Swap on Facebook. If you’re on a mobile device you can download their app here. They operate within a certain zip code and you usually have to request permission to join. Currently I belong to 6 swip swap groups and I have purchased and sold items in some of them. It’s an easy, fun way to buy and sell with your neighbors. Of course, even when participating in local buyer’s exchange groups, they are still “strangers” and you should follow common sense safety rules.
The Bottom Line
Overall, there are far too many great deals to be had by buying and selling online for me to miss out due to a few bad apples. In actuality the dangers are really low, but they are still a possibility. Use common sense and follow the guidelines listed above, and odds are that you will have nothing but success. Happy Craigslisting!