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Fri Apr 7 2017 09:35:42

Staying Safe while Selling on Craigslist

By: Bob

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Thinking of selling through a classifieds site like Craigslist? In today's column, online seller and blogger Bob offers some common-sense tips (with tongue in cheek) on trading safely.

Craiglist.com is a (usually) free website that promotes selling goods and services locally. There are hundreds of different sites set up. Pick any area in the country and you'll typically find thousands of items for sale. 

The upside of selling locally on Craigslist:
No listing fees or selling commissions
No expensive packing and shipping 
No returns - on-site, in-person inspection
Usually a cash payment

The downside of selling locally on Craigslist:
You might be murdered

Occasionally there are headlines of people meeting up on Craigslist for a local sale where the seller's safety is jeopardized. Please note that being murdered could seriously impact your profit margin. And while deaths resulting from a Craigslist sale are rare, robbery or physical abuse are more common (though also rare). Sellers should take some precautions when using this, or any other, locally-based selling platform.

A common solution is for the buyer and seller to agree to meet in a public place for the deal. But according to a statistic I just made up, 58% of Craigslist buyers don't show up! So, if this is the only comfortable route for you, try to arrange a meeting at a public place where you would either normally be or wouldn't mind being - like a coffee shop. For more expensive items you might even suggest meeting outside a police station (though this will surely increase your chances of having your buyer not show up). 

It could be risky, but meeting at your home may be the best, time-saving option, especially when dealing with large items like furniture, industrial equipment or appliances.

If you decide to sell from your home, there are a few common-sense safety tips. First, be sure to get the buyer's phone number and other contact information and confirm that it is accurate by making a test call. Next, try to have someone with you. Anyone with enough digits and sense to dial 911 while you're screaming in the background, will do. 

Accurately describe your item in your original ad so there are few surprises. Also, try to agree on a price, and payment type, beforehand. This should reduce the potential of any conflict even before you meet. If the buyer goes back on the agreed price and tries to talk you down so much that you can't agree, explain that it's not just your decision. That you have to speak with your husband, or wife, or parole officer.

Unless you're confident that you can handle a bad situation (you tough guy, you), avoid selling expensive items like gold jewelry. The potential buyer may be staking out your home, assuming you have more expensive items stored away inside. 

Do not sell borderline illegal items like drug paraphernalia (i.e.: smoking pipes, bongs, needles or instruction books). Potential buyers may assume that you also have the drugs. Police might make this assumption as well, which could lead to another type of safety issue for that small group of people who are allergic to handcuffs. 

Finally, a couple inexpensive gimmicks can discourage an aggressive buyer. Place 'Beware of Dog' signs and dummy security cameras in high visibility areas outside your home. 

These can often be found used, pretty cheap, on Craigslist. Just try not to murder the sellers.

About the Columnist
Bob has been buying and selling online for almost 20 years. Some experts claim that his limited budget was the major cause of the 2001 dot-com crash. He denies the charge.




Comments (11) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Staying Safe while Selling on Craigslist   Staying Safe while Selling on Craigslist

by: TrickyMick This user has validated their user name.

Fri Apr 7 10:30:38 2017

I sell on CL a lot. It's great, usually I sell from home but if I'm out and about I will meet someone where it's convenient.

I use a ''crack'' phone for craigslist and ebay... because people will call or text 1-3am no problem. I leave it in my shop at night, or airplane mode. (Old iphone)

I have paid to run employment adds with great success also.  Im glad ebay didn't succeed in taking over Craigslist.

Staying Safe while Selling on Craigslist   Staying Safe while Selling on Craigslist

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Fri Apr 7 10:45:00 2017

"The potential buyer may be staking out your home,...."

That's why you should never invite the buyer inside your home. Meet up with the item to sell in hand on your driveway, or front lawn, which is, hopefully, clearly visible to your neighbors.

Staying Safe while Selling on Craigslist   Staying Safe while Selling on Craigslist

by: DingDong This user has validated their user name.

Fri Apr 7 11:04:40 2017

Our police station is only open for 8 hours and told me to go to the gas station where there are security cameras and other people.

If you have a large item that you have, put it out in the garage.
When you have a time that someone wants to see the item, place the item outside so they don't see what you have in the garage.

I will write down the license plate and description of vehicle.
Since I don't have a cell phone, but a compact camera, casually take of picture of the person/car from a distance.

Staying Safe while Selling on Craigslist   Staying Safe while Selling on Craigslist

This user has validated their user name. by: eXtinctBay

Sat Apr 8 14:48:43 2017

First rule of Craigslist:

DO NOT do business by e-mail (or text). Strictly phone calls. This eliminates most of the kooks and lowballers with their opinions on your asking price. Also the Nigerian money order and other scammers.

And, while an e-mail address can be spoofed, a phone number can be more easily traced back to an actual person if there are any problems.

Staying Safe while Selling on Craigslist   Staying Safe while Selling on Craigslist

This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Sat Apr 8 19:27:04 2017

WARNING : When buying a laptop or other device with an operating system, before you start using it to purchase or bank online > Get to the settings (control panel) that allow a 3rd party access to the computer. Uncheck boxes and delete other users.
It must only be You (administrator). No other users should ever be present or have access. Delete the other accounts ASAP.
I once bought a laptop from some guy in a parking lot, that had it set up to see everything I would do.
Fortunately I'm self educated to the degree that I shut him down before he even got a glimpse.
Then, install MalwareBytes , SpyBot Search & Destroy, and Microsoft Security Essentials. That should do it.

Staying Safe while Selling on Craigslist   Staying Safe while Selling on Craigslist

by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Sun Apr 9 01:51:49 2017

Some  police  stations  in  bigger  areas  actually have  designated areas  FOR  you  to do transactions via Craigs  or  other sales  venues (your local  Shopper paper  etc).

I have done a few  sales  and  meet with  the buyer in a public place bringing  some one with me;  I have  also been the buyer on a few and have  always gone to the persons house--altho this has been on larger items  like lawn mowers  and kids  swing  sets etc.  Oh and chickens--altho I somehow  doubt that most people buying or selling  live  chickens on Craigs are seriously worried  about  the dreaded CraigsList Chicken Slayer  Murder.  

I once had a person ask me about selling  on ebay (back  when ebay was a decent place TO sell)  and when I explained  the set up  she  got all worried that  by selling  GOLD COINS--ahem--she would become a "target".  And buyers would go to her house and break in.   Aside  from  the scam  aspect  I said-Well rent a PO Box  for  your ebay mail!  Seemed  like an easy "fix"  to me  but---some people just  should stick  to B&M transactions.    

Staying Safe while Selling on Craigslist   Staying Safe while Selling on Craigslist

by: gizmo This user has validated their user name.

Sun Apr 9 09:55:16 2017

Since feeling robbed by deadbaY , I sell a lot on craigs. Have had no issues. I do have real cameras , & a fenced yard. I feel as safe as going to the store. Robbed can happen anywhere. I also state in my adds , no large groups , it irritates my dog. Craigs list rocks , ebay sucks.

Staying Safe while Selling on Craigslist   Staying Safe while Selling on Craigslist

by: Bidonmine This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 10 09:02:29 2017

My town just added a safe transaction zone for Craigslist and other purchases. The Police station has a marked, well lighted area that is monitored with cameras and recording devices.  

Staying Safe while Selling on Craigslist   Staying Safe while Selling on Craigslist

by: maribellr This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 10 10:21:50 2017

When I meet someone , it's always in a wendys or major shopping center. I ask what kind of car they have.  I also don't take my credit cards. I ask for exact amount. If they don't have it, I ask them to get it before we meet.  I also like to get there first to see what they look like. If I am not comfortable, Ijust leave.

Staying Safe while Selling on Craigslist   Staying Safe while Selling on Craigslist

by: maribellr This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 10 10:23:24 2017

Also, I use what I call a cheap "terrorist" phone for Craigslist and ebay.  I only answer it when I need to .  It cannot be traced to my home. My car is registered to a po box so I don't worry about them getting my home address.

Staying Safe while Selling on Craigslist   Staying Safe while Selling on Craigslist

by: leathermermaid8 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 10 14:28:51 2017

Whenever I buy something, I always let the sellers know in advance what kind of car I have...since they sometimes forgot to include dimensions and I may need a van.  They're welcomed to call me too.

I PREFER meeting somewhere since I am no more comfortable going into a strangers house than they are inviting me in.  It only makes sense to take precautions.  


I do ask if the thing is upstairs or down.  If it's too big for them to take to a meet, this often gets the item hauled downstairs for me, saving me the aggravation of bringing my hubbs along (he asks too many questions) and nobody has to go inside their home.  A win for everybody.  I keep a dolly in my car and have an appliance dolly for bigger acquisitions.  No help needed although most want to give me a hand.  And I always bring cash.  No whining or wheedling from me.  So far, only met nice folks just want it out of the way.


I only sold something once there, though.  It was a Janome sewing table.  One person wanted to have it shipped sight unseen, sure that it would be fine, with goofy shipping requests and strange payment method.  I smelled a rat.  They never responded to direct questions, either.  

The next person offered me a quarter of my price and wanted me to send them directions and wait until they drove from two states away so they could eyeball it first.  I didn't bother to respond.

A local quilter bought it and that was that. Oh, and they came to my house, climbed over my yapping dogs and were quite happy.  



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