Be Craigslist Smart.
Craigslist has become an important resource that many people turn to to buy items such as used furniture or used musical instruments. Thousands of people use Craigslist with no problem, but there are always a few scammers here and there, so make sure you avoid these 4 common scams so you can shop on Craigslist without putting yourself or your money at risk.
Fake Payment Methods
Receiving emails from buyers in other countries who offer to pay more if you accept their check or money order is a common scam. This scam is usually aimed at people selling antiques or musical instruments. Beware of anyone who offers you more than you are asking for. Also, look for poor grammar and writing that might signal the buyer may be overseas.
- How to Identify and Avoid: Craigslist recommends only doing business with buyers in your local area. Choose a public place, and only meet during the day when there are plenty of other people around. Take someone else with you just to be safe.
Craigslist is a convenient place for buying tickets to concerts, sporting events, and other events that are sold out. You may not realize, until your ticket is scanned at the door of the event, that it is fake.
- How to Identify and Avoid: Ask the seller for ID and see that it matches the name on the tickets. They should also have an account number that is printed on top of the ticket. Ask for the name of their ticket rep and call to prove that they do have real tickets.
Car Selling Scams
Car scams are growing in number, and they may be used by the buyer or seller. When you sell a car online, you may receive a check for payment that is stolen, fake, or that bounces. If you are the buyer, you may find out that you bought a car that didn’t exist or that doesn’t have a clear title.
- How to Identify and Avoid: Beware of any car that is offered at a very low price. Some sellers claim to be in the military and that they are stationed overseas. Don’t respond to ads that don’t include a phone number or deal with someone who is just “picking up” or “dropping off” the car. If a seller or buyer seems to be in a hurry to complete the deal, it may not be legit.
Craigslist Escrow Scam
If a seller requests you to use a third-party escrow service, it may put your mind at ease (often used for very expensive transactions). An escrow company will make sure you get the item you purchased before your money goes to the seller. And they make sure there are no payment scams for the sellers. What you don’t realize is that an escrow scam company may have created a website that sounds and looks like the real thing. Your payment will go into the escrow service, and you will never get the item you purchased. You may even begin to see additional charges to your debit or credit card.
- How to Identify and Avoid: Avoid any company that asks money to be wired to them from a company like Western Union or MoneyGram, and avoid ones that are located in a country outside of the US. Don’t be pressured into using their escrow service. You can (and probably should!) choose your own. Your state will also offer verification help. For example in California, you can call the California Department of Corporations toll-free at 1-866-ASK-CORP (1-866-275- 2677) to make sure the escrow company you plan to use is properly licensed. The BBB has additional safety tips.
Limiting your dealings to those with local buyers and sellers will help you avoid 99% of all Craigslist scams.
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This information is provided for general consumer educational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax or investment advice.