What to know

  • Do not use a personal email address; Try to shop locally; meet in public and do not go alone; Avoid money-wiring services.
  • Do not provide personal or financial information. View the item in person before purchasing; Remove geotag from photo.

For more Craigslist online safety tips, visit the service’s scam avoidance page.

 

Never Use Your Real Email Address

When posting and responding to an ad on Craigslist, you have the option of using your actual email address or the proxy email address provided by Craigslist. Protect your real email address from spammers and scammers by choosing a Craigslist address.

The anonymous Craigslist email address is great for posting ads on the site without revealing any identifying information beyond your first name. However, even if you opt for proxy email when responding to an ad, the seller still sees your real name and any personal details listed in your email signature.

To protect your real email address when replying to an ad, consider a disposable email address to hide your identity, such as one from Mailinator or GishPuppy. Using one of these alternative email services maintains anonymity throughout the transaction.

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Shop Locally When Possible

Craigslist advises: “Treat locally with people you can meet in person.” This approach eliminates your risk of scam. But this advice comes with its own security risks; It is important to exercise caution (see below).

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Meet in a public place and don’t go alone

For your own safety, always meet the buyer or seller in a public place, such as a coffee shop. Bring a friend to watch the transaction and take care of your own safety.

Some police departments provide a designated area in their parking lot where you can meet a buyer or seller. These areas are being videotaped and monitored by police officials.

Craigslist also recommends following these rules:

  • Don’t meet in a secluded place.
  • Never invite strangers into your home.
  • Always take your cellphone with you.
  • Never go alone.

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Never Give Out Personal or Financial Information

Some scammers post job listings on Craigslist and say they need to run a “credit check” on respondents. This is a ploy to steal your personal information to obtain credit cards in your name or to commit any other type of identity fraud.

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Always meet in person, bring a friend, and deal in cash or use a secure or predictable payment method such as PayPal to avoid giving the seller your credit card information.

 

Avoid using money-wiring services

Craigslist warns that anyone who asks you to use a money-wiring service is probably trying to defraud you. Wire transfer appears to be the service of choice for criminals (especially foreign ones) who perpetrate shipping fraud and other online scams.

If a buyer or seller mentions using a wire service for payment, consider it a big red flag.

 

Never buy anything without seeing it in the first person

When buying an item, don’t rely on a picture posted on Craigslist. Sellers sometimes use an image from the Internet to misrepresent the product they are selling.

If you do want to purchase the item, check it out in person before making a deal, and follow the safety tips above for meeting with the seller in person.

 

Remove geotags from photos before posting

If you take a picture of an item to sell on Craigslist, be careful. Photos taken with a GPS-enabled smartphone may have the physical location of the location where you took the photo embedded in EXIF ​​metadata, which is part of the file header of the photo.

While you can’t see GPS geotag information in the picture, thieves using the EXIF ​​Metadata Viewer application may be able to read location information to help locate the item.

Craigslist doesn’t specify whether it removes geotags, as some online sites do, so it’s wise to remove geotag information from your photos before uploading them to Craigslist.

Use the EXIF ​​geotag removal app to remove geotag information from your pictures before posting them online.

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