Keven Moore: When buying and selling on Craigslist, trust your instincts not strangers - NKyTribune (2024)

For years, Craigslist has cut the legs out from underneath most newspapers with its free online alternative to the classified advertising pages, offering a way to advertise – and shop for – jobs, housing, items for sale, items wanted, services and more.

Today, Craigslist receives more than 50 billion page-views a month, and more than 60 million people from the U.S. alone visit the website each month. There are more than 100 million classified postings per month, with more than 700 local sites in 70 countries around the world.

Each week “resident riskologist” Keven Moore shines the light on America’s riskiest behaviors – from unsafe driving practices to workplace stress to common home accidents. And in the process, he provides the information needed to help people play it a little safer.

I have bought and sold just about everything via Craigslist – guns, furniture, cars, trucks, baseball equipment, Christmas trees, gym equipment, a tanning bed, cellphones, appliances, a pool table, tools, etc. I even once sold my pride and joy, an old 1972, 31-foot Airstream camper. My most treasured find now rests comfortably in my basem*nt, a mint-condition massage chair valued at $3,000 bought for just $270.

I would not go as far as to say that I am a Craigslist pro, however I’m pretty comfortable using the online service. I find it much easier selling stuff and getting a fair value on Craigslist, verses haggling with bargain hunters every spring during our neighborhood garage sale. Besides Craigslist buyers don’t bang on your garage door at 6:30 a.m.

As a risk management and safety professional who uses Craigslist, I don’t think it’s any more dangerous than using the newspaper classified ads was years ago. And just like before, you must use common sense and never trust a stranger. A newspaper and a Craigslist-type transaction both require that you meet a stranger where a cash transaction is going to take place.

Still, I know people are leery. Even though most people who use Craigslist are simply looking to get a bargain deal. Yes, there are a few who use Craigslist for scams and worse. They understand that while most of us are capable of recognizing scams and shady propositions, there are still enough newcomers to Craigslist to make scam attempts worthwhile.

I read in one report that a competitor had highlighted some 333 crimes related to Craigslist, but with 573 million postings on Craigslist last year in North America, that’s an average of just 0.00005 percent of posts.

For safety’s sake it’s important to never list your home address, phone number or other personal information in your Craigslist ad, and it’s advised that you create a dedicated email account that you’ll use solely for Craigslist transactions. If you are new to Craigslist, you will have the option to use your own email address or a Craigslist-provided proxy e-mail address. It’s a good idea to use the proxy email as it will help keep spammers and scammers from getting access to your real one.

Whenever you use Craigslist, you should protect your privacy and if you feel uncomfortable with your interactions, don’t hesitate to end the transaction. As a seller or a buyer, you are in control.

Here are a few more safety tips:

Never provide your real contact information – While the Craigslist-provided address is great for receiving e-mails, it does not conceal your identity when you choose to respond to someone from your real address. So use the proxy email that you created just for Craigslist transactions to conceal your identity. This will help preserve your anonymity throughout the entire transaction instead of just during the initial inquiry.

Shop local – Remember to deal with folks who can meet you in person. This is a good rule of thumb because many scammers won’t risk meeting you in person and won’t waste the resources needed to do so.

Avoid using money wiring services for transactions – Craigslist advises that most people who want you to use a money wiring service are likely trying to scam you. Wire transfers are the service of choice for criminals (especially foreign ones) perpetrating shipping scams and other related fraud.

Never allow someone to pay with a check – A scam used against sellers involves the scammer offering an authentic-looking counterfeit cashier’s check for an amount greater than your asking price. Many scammers will ask the seller to cash the check and give or send them the excess funds. While the seller’s bank may immediately give them access to the check’s funds, a funds transfer between accounts doesn’t occur instantaneously, so the bank won’t immediately realize the check is no good. And even though the seller acts in good faith with his bank, he’ll be liable for reimbursing the full amount of the check.

Never buy sight unseen – Never trust the picture the seller posts of an item. Sometimes, sellers will grab a picture off the internet because they are either too lazy to take one themselves or they are trying to conceal something about the real item being sold. Always check out the item in person before making a deal.

Always meet the buyer/seller in a public place … and bring a friend – Never meet someone in a secluded place or at night. For your own personal safety, always meet the buyer or seller in a well-lit public place that has exterior cameras. Some police departments today enourage you to meet the person in the local precinct lobby. Bring a friend as well to witness the transaction and keep an eye out for your safety. Always take your cellphone with you, and make sure to tell a friend or family member where you are going before meeting a buyer/seller. You can also snap a picture of the buyer/seller and the license plate before starting the transaction. Just let them know that you are doing it for your own safety.

Do not invite strangers into your home –If you are selling something from home do it during the day and move the item to be sold to the garage and lock the door behind you when you raise the garage door. Have another adult family member, friend or neighbor there, and if necessary ask another neighbor to keep an eye out for you during the transaction. Whenever I have made a sale at home, I am always armed for safety reasons, and I instruct my family to not open the door until I call them via my cellphone.

Remove geotags from pictures before you post them on Craigslist – Before uploading pictures of the item being sold onto Craigslist, you should always remove geotag information from your photos. Geotags provide the coordinates of your location.

Be extra cautious when selling high-value items – You need to double down on your safety when dealing with high-value items, as most of the criminal activity occurs during these transactions.

Over the years I have had my fair share of scammers attempt to mail me checks that are two or three times my asking price; and I have actually engaged in some pretty entertaining conversations with them just for the fun of it.

For pure entertainment when they ask me for my name and address to mail a check, I always give them the Kentucky attorney general’s name, address and phone number and demand that they next-day air out that fraudulent check within 24 hours because I really am looking forward to finalizing the deal. I always enjoy the conversation afterwards when they ask me if I have received the check yet and enlighten them with the news of who actually received their check.

When it comes to selling anything, remember to trust your God-given instincts, and if someone is being too pushy or if a deal is too good to be true, hit delete and move on.

Be safe, my friends.

Keven Moore works in risk management services. He has a bachelor’s degree from University of Kentucky, a master’s from Eastern Kentucky University and 25-plus years of experience in the safety and insurance profession. He lives in Lexington with his family and works out of both the Lexington and Northern Kentucky offices. Keven can be reached at kmoore@roeding.com


Keven Moore: When buying and selling on Craigslist, trust your instincts not strangers - NKyTribune (2024)
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