When I moved to the US, I was surprised by just how many people buy and sell using websites like Craigslist. You can find anything from pre-owned tech such as smartphones, laptops, tablets to furniture, books, and even cars. However, when I went decided to give it a try, I got nervous – there are way too many scams on these sites.
I didn’t want to give out my personal info and I certainly didn’t want my money to be taken by some scammer. So after chatting with various people who often use the craigslist app to buy items, here are some safety tips to help:
Common Signs of Scams
There are many signs of potentials scams and the more you search, the more obvious these become.
- An item for sale at a price that’s too good to be true
- Dozens of postings for the exact same item
- Someone who is selling at an item at a good price but will only sell if you visit a particular location and refuses to budge on that
- Someone who wants to send you a PayPal link so that you can sign up for payment (possible phishing scam in which the user can steal your bank account details for committing fraud)
- Posting that has stock photos of the product
Meet at a Public Place
If you are going to meet the seller, make sure that you pick the meeting place carefully. There are even places specifically designated to meet sellers which are monitored by police cameras! Definitely avoid meeting the person at their home or at your own home.
If you are buying a really expensive item like a car or a high-end computer, then you can also consider finding the best background check websites where you can verify the credentials of the seller and ensure that they are not selling you a fake or stolen product as predicted by their background history.
Bring a Friend
Remember that the seller knows exactly how much money you are carrying, and they know where you are coming to meet. Since you don’t know the person, there is always the possibility of things going wrong so it’s wise to have a friend tag along. Just in case…
Inspect the Item Thoroughly
You must insist to test and inspect the item you are buying. Do not be rushed. If the seller just wants to get the sale over with, then be suspicious.
Switch on any laptop or phone and make sure it is unlocked and everything works. Test the keyboard and hit every key and check out some of these tips when buying a cell phone:
Retain Personal Information
Don’t overshare. Its a transaction like the one you have with a checkout clerk at a department store – no need to get into your personal life.
There is no reason to reveal your personal details especially your address to the seller no matter how friendly they are especially if you are buying a book or furniture!