Safety Tips for Buyers and Sellers on Craigslist

Buyers and Sellers on Craigslist and other Online Sites Need to Beware!

Sheriff Michael J. Bouchard would like to encourage all users of or other online purchasing sites to use caution when transacting business. When purchasing or selling items on these sites, there are many safety considerations that should be taken into account.

Oakland County Sheriff Car

Oakland County Sheriff Car

• Sellers and buyers have to understand that these deals are a win-win for criminals. You either have product they want to steal, or money to be used to buy a made-up item.

• Never post information which can lead back to your residence. This could be your actual address or home telephone number.

• Ask a lot of questions. Ask as many questions as you can before going to buy the product. If the seller can’t answer your questions, there is a good chance that they do not actually have the product and could be setting you up.

• Criminals often offer to sell/buy expensive items. Use extreme caution when making these deals.

• Pay for and request payments in cash. Using a check gives your personal information. Fake money orders or cashier’s checks will be cashed by the bank and you will be held responsible.

• Protect yourself from possible scams by not selling to a buyer who is not interested in seeing the product first, or who is not a local resident. Do not send money back or forward to another person until a check clears. This could take a couple of days.

• Remove any geotags from images before posting. This information could lead criminals to your home by reading the EXIF metadata.

• NEVER wire funds such as using Western Union. This is almost always a scam.

• Don’t buy from sellers who only list an email address: This is a HUGE RED FLAG. If they don’t list their phone number, the seller usually has something to hide.

• Meet in a public place – preferably a police agency’s parking lot. It would protect both parties- if they balk, that is a red flag. If they don’t want to meet there, offer a different police station- if they refuse, do not meet at all and cancel the deal. Criminals don’t want witnesses. Meeting at a police agency or a public place like a coffee shop or cafe can help ensure your safety. Most of the criminals on Craigslist are looking for an easy target and are not likely to rob you at a police station or a public place.

• Don’t go alone. You should always have someone with you who can watch your back.

• Bring a cell phone in case of an emergency.

• Leave any expensive clothing and accessories at home. Bring clothes you can run in and/or fight in if need be.

• If you do go alone, tell a family member or friend where and when you will be meeting for the exchange.

• Show up early: If you ARE meeting in a public location, and not a police agency, show up early and scope out the area. Watch for the seller, and make sure everything looks legitimate. If you have even the slightest concern that something seems out of place, trust your instincts and leave.

• Never go to a second location. If you arrive at the predetermined meeting place and the seller asks to go to another place, this should raise some serious red flags. There is no reason for a seller to ask you to go somewhere else.

• Many Craigslist scams are pretty easy to spot. If the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You are better off passing it up.

“There are many horror stories related to Craigslist crimes, so please research the types of scams that are out there,” said Sheriff Bouchard. “There are positive Craigslist stories out there as well, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Trust your instincts and be wary of scammers wishing to do you harm. Use a great deal of caution when entering into these types of deals.”


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