How to avoid getting scammed on Craigslist

Help to recognize and avoid scams, as well as who to notify


While much can be said about what Craigslist has done to revolutionize the online community of sellers and consumers since its creation, it's difficult to ignore the fact that compelling scams are an issue for the digital marketplace.

In response to the difficulties that scamming provides for Craigslist users, the website has created a list of helpful tips to recognize and avoid attempts at fraud, including one that it promises to be very nearly foolproof.

Craigslist's number one tip for avoiding scams is to "deal locally, face-to-face." If you keep this one rule in mind for your dealings, the site believes that you can "avoid 99 percent of scam attempts."

More specific pieces of advice for avoiding scams on Craigslist include: Do not extend payment to anyone you have not met in person, beware offers involving shipping, never wire funds, don't accept cashier/certified checks or money orders, transactions are between users only, no third parties, never give out financial info, do not rent or purchase sight-unseen and refuse background/credit checks.

Craigslist also provides information on how to best recognize scams. According to the site, "Most scams attempts involve one or more of the following: Email or text from someone that is not local to your area, Vague initial inquiry, e.g. asking about "the item, Poor grammar/spelling, Western Union, Money Gram, cashier check, money orders, paypal, shipping, escrow service, or a "guarantee, or an inability or refusal to meet face-to-face to complete the transaction."

If you believe that someone on the site is attempting to defraud or scam you, Craigslist encourages you to contact the Internet Fraud Complaint Center or to the Federal Trade Commission. 

To get more in-depth information on how to recognize and avoid scams on Craigslist, examples of past scams on the site, and more outlets to notify in the case of attempts at fraud, click here