Is it safe to sell your personal items on Craigslist? It is if you follow some safety guidelines to protect yourself. Otherwise, it can be tempting to push all caution aside as you entertain a flood of offers from potential buyers. The thought of making some quick cash may cloud your better judgment. That kind of thinking is an invitation to trouble because a lot of scammers hang out on Craigslist and they’re looking for you.
Here are four important safety tips to remember when you want to sell your stuff online:
1. Local sales are recommended. Why? With a local sale, you don’t have to worry about items getting broken in the mail. Do you really want to deal with frustrating item returns and refunds? The advantage of a local sale is that the item will be transported in your car to deliver to the buyer. You’ll have the item in your possession at all times so there’s no opportunity for a buyer to claim it arrived in pieces.
2. It’s important for you to meet the buyer in a public place. This one tip alone could save your life in case your buyer is a fake. Pick a grocery store parking lot where there’s a lot of light and pedestrians. Always keep in mind that you don’t know your buyer. He or she may sound nice in an email or over the phone, but a lot of unsuspecting crime victims fall prey because the crook sounded nice during initial communications. Meeting in a public place and bringing a friend with you is very smart. A crook will be less tempted to rob or harm you if you arrive with someone.
3. Another good tip is to let a friend or family member know where, when, and what time you plan to meet with the potential buyer. Ask the buyer for a first and last name, if possible. Also, ask for a description of what he or she looks like and the type of car you should look for. It will sound like you’re asking for this information so you can find the buyer in the parking lot. The buyer’s description, type of car, and email address are all important details you should give to a trusted person before you meet with a buyer you don’t know. You’ll feel a lot better when you know this information is readily available to someone you trust if something goes wrong during the sale.
4. Your Craigslist advertisement should say that you’ll only accept cash for your item. Make sure you verify this payment method when you talk with the potential buyer. Remind him or her that you need the exact amount of cash and you will not be able to give them change. Personal checks can bounce and a scammer may think you’re naive and will accept whatever form of payment he or she shows up with. If the buyer ignores your request and shows up with a personal check, walk away. You are in charge of the deal.
As much as you want to trust people, turn on the news and you’ll see that violent crime is rampant. Always trust your gut instincts. If you’re talking with the buyer in person and something doesn’t feel right, make an excuse and leave quickly. You may have saved your life. All of us are potential crime victims. Craigslist is a popular network for buying and selling online, but it’s always best to use caution when dealing with strangers.