You may have read my earlier posts regarding Craigslist and how to buy and sell using Craigslist. But what happens after you find that item, buyer, or job offer? How do you know if it’s safe to meet or do business here?
Well, Craigslist is a lot like working with the classified ads in a newspaper, except that you can tell how old a Craigslist ad is. Other than this, Craigslist is a pretty much a free for all marketplace. They don’t act as a middleman, like Ebay or Amazon, where buyers and sellers are regulated to an extent and can be penalized for bad behavior, and where there’s a secure system for payment and shipping. And there are lots of scammers and other nefarious types using Craigslist, sometimes to commit horrible crimes.
But you can stay safe with Craigslist if you use it right and know what to look for.
When selling or buying a physical item, and you either want to see the item or you have an item that someone wants to see, there obviously has to be a meeting. And you can’t blame someone for wanting to see your item, as they are following the rule you probably follow yourself that says, “Don’t buy something sight unseen from someone you don’t know”. So, what to do?
My advice is to not meet at your place, or theirs. Not yours, because they can see what you have and case out your place for future burglary or worse.
Not theirs, because they can rob you or worse, and you be on “their territory”, so to speak, and won’t know what to expect. The only exception to this is, if they are having a garage sale. And then, drive by first to see if they really are having a garage sale. See nothing there? Drive on.
Solution? Meet in a public place, where lots of people are. A fast food place, mall, or even a police station can be good. And take someone with you if possible. There’s safety in numbers. But if you can’t take someone with you, always meet in a crowded public place.
Now, before you meet, be sure to get the person’s name and description, and also learn to pick up what ever else they say that can help. One guy I sold something to suggested meeting at a fast food place where he worked. I came early and asked one of the employees there about him, mentioning his name, and the employee knew him and verified that he worked there, so this made it much safer.
If you or the person you want to deal with is selling items at a flea market, you can also have them meet you there, since there will naturally be people there, too.
What about large items that are hard to move, or even homes? If you are the buyer, and the item is being sold by the owner and not a dealer or agency, go early and check out the area. This may not always help, but sometimes it can. And definitely take someone with you, even if they are just an acquaintance. And let someone else know where you are going.
If you are the seller, make sure that someone is with you. Having a garage sale with neighbors, friend, and relatives helping out would be ideal.
In my opinion, if it’s your house that you’re selling and you’re selling it yourself, it would be wise to move everything out, including you and your family, out first. This way, anyone who comes to see your home, will think you no longer are actually living there and they’ll see no items to steal. However, having said this, I would still speak to a realtor first before selling the house myself. They may have better ideas regarding this.
What about posts in the jobs or gigs categories? Same applies. When inquiring or responding to ads in these categories, always ask for the business name if it is not in the ad. If they are vague or won’t tell you outright, move on. If it is a private party, as is often the case in the gigs category, be extra cautious, especially if it involves modeling, entertainment, or the arts. Many scammers will claim that they can get you in but instead will empty your wallet or worse. If someone appears legit, check them out further and anytime someone won’t give you information that they should give you, like their name, or details about what they require, again, move on!
Lastly, regarding any job or gig posts, don’t give out personal information until you can really confirm that you’re dealing with someone legitimate and that it is required! If you answer a gig where they just want you to dig a ditch for cash, they do not need your social security number, and if they demand it, leave!
If you are selling a service on the side, you will have customers and they will be paying you. To stay safe, if the service, or business that you do can be done online and delivered by using shipping or e-mail, try to keep from having to meet clients if possible. I do this with my resume business.
Clients call me or e-mail me and send me what they want on their resume. I put the resume together and send it to them as an e-mail attachment. They then send payment to my P.O. Box, or via PayPal, which is safer than having it sent to my home address. If the client does need to meet with me, I make sure that it is in a public place.
While none of what I said will absolutely guarantee your safety, they will lessen the odds significantly that something bad will happen to you during a Craigslist transaction. Craigslist can be a great site to use if you just use common sense and keep your eyes and ears open. Stay safe!
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