Craigslist can be a convenient and inexpensive way to get a great deal on used items or make some extra cash if you have items to sell. Most of the transactions that originate on Craigslist happen without a hitch, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be wary. Unscrupulous people can use Craigslist to take advantage of you in multiple ways: by gathering your personal information, making fake deals to steal your money, or physically harming you. Protect yourself by taking the following precautions:
Rule #1 is to use common sense. If something feels fishy or "off," it probably is.
Take advantage of the Craigslist feature that allows you to hide your email address. Give your mobile phone number, so it can't be traced to your home.
If possible, meet in a public place such as a coffee shop or store parking lot. Some police stations allow citizens to complete such transactions on their premises.
Bring a friend and your phone to any meeting. Let others know where you'll be.
If you're selling and must meet at your home, move the item to a visible location, such as an open garage.
The best way to be paid is in cash. Never issue refunds on checks that haven't yet cleared, and never send money to purchase an item you haven't seen.
You may also want to explore the "swap shops" offered on Facebook by many communities. They can be a safe way to buy and sell used merchandise in your area.
Remember, people you meet online aren't always who they appear to be, but there are steps you can take to protect yourself, both online and off. For additional recommendations, visit www.staysafeonline.org.