Safe and Pleasant Transactions
Because craigslist is a local online classifieds site intended to result in face-to-face transactions between buyers and sellers, there are no safeguards in place, such as user feedback ratings, required registration, or transaction guarantees. Whereas many people will tell you “Buyer beware,” my best advice is “Buyer be smart.” You can avoid most problems by following a few simple rules:
- Deal locally only. It’s much more difficult to be scammed in person.
- Never give out financial information.
- Supply only as much personal information as necessary, and only after you’re confident that the person is legitimate.
- Meet in a public place whenever possible.
- Never have someone come to your house when you’re alone. Have a friend or two with you.
- Expect no-shows. You’ll be less frustrated if you realize that it’s a small part of doing business.
- Inspect the merchandise.
- Test the item. It may have worked last time the seller tried it, but make certain that it’s still working now.
- Review maintenance records when possible.
- Complete a third-party inspection. For vehicles and so on, pay for an expert to look over the item.
- Never assume. If you and the other party have not discussed a specific term of the sale, don’t assume that you’ll agree on it. Discuss terms early on and keep open lines of communication with the other party.
- Ask for cash.
- For a higher-priced item, consider accepting a cashier’s check drawn on a local bank, or a U.S. Post Office money order.
- Get your transaction in writing. Ask for a receipt for high-ticket items. If guarantees are made, get them in writing, too.
- For service providers, ask for proof of any required licensing and for references.