Craigslist is one of my favorite sites on the Internet, though I admittedly have a love/hate relationship with it. One reason I love it is because of the deals and variety of items and services available, but I hate it because some of the people who use it are scammers and the site has some major security issues.
Once, I listed a property on on Craigslist for rent. Scammers relisted the property for a third of the asking price. People came to my home and would knock on my door to see the property, even after the listing had expired.
Here's how scammers work on Craigslist:
The scammer will copy and paste the ad and then pose as the homeowner who is overseas on business. To generate traffic, the scammer will list the ad for less than it is being asked. When a person responds to the ad, the scammer then tells them they can rent the property out, they simply need to forward the first month's rent overseas. More people fall for this than you would believe.
How did I thwart this crime? I continuously scanned Craigslist for my ad to see if it was being posted. When I found any similar ads, I would email the information to [email protected], and the company would take the post down. However, the scammer also was on top of it, and kept posting the ad again.
So how can you protect yourself from these scams?
- Use common sense, pay attention and be smart.
- Be careful about who you are contacting and who contacts you.
- Try to deal locally when possible and always meet in person in a safe location.
- Do not engage in any online monetary transaction that requires you to send money to a stranger after they send money to you. This is a scam.
- Do not disclose financial information, Social Security numbers or any account information.
Personal Security Tips:
Always Use Craigslist With Caution - People have been robbed, scammed, burglarized and even killed by using Craigslist. You must be careful about who you contact as you don't know what everyone's true motivation is.
Work With a Friend - If possible, meet the person with a friend or family member. There is strength in numbers.
Get ID Info Before Meeting - You also want to make sure that you get the person's name and phone number before meeting them. Call them to verify the number, and tell them that your brother, who is a cop, will have his cruiser there when you meet, so they should not be alarmed.
Stay As Aware As Possible - There is always risk when meeting a stranger, but staying aware can help to keep you from getting into a bad situation.
Trust Your Instincts - Do not discount any negative feelings you may have about the meeting, and cancel it if necessary.
Wear the Right Things - Do not wear anything provocative or expensive, nor should you wear loose fitting clothing or scarves, as attackers can grab onto them easily. Wear good shoes that you can run in.
Stay in Communication - Make sure someone you know, such as a spouse or family member, knows where you are and when you will be back. Try to have them on the phone during the meeting.