How to Safely Sell on Craigslist

by Amy Adkins

According to Craigslist, more than 50 million classified ads published to the site each month in the U.S. As a free site without a lot of guidelines or oversight, Craigslist can be an attractive and quick way to sell anything from kids clothing to furniture to cars. While Craigslist maintains that most of its users have good intentions, there have been incidences of fraud and violent crime between buyers and sellers. However, Craigslist sellers can follow a few steps to ensure their personal and financial safety.

Write a detailed description of the item for sale, including an informative title. The more details you include about your item will not only help it sell more quickly, but will cut down on the number of inquiries you receive, and the back and forth emails and phone calls you have to engage in with potential buyers. Be sure to add photos of the item as well.

Leave your personal details out of the post. Craigslist gives sellers the option to anonymize their email address so that no buyers can see it. Also avoid adding a phone number, home address or any information that would lead someone to your home, including your general neighborhood.

Keep communication brief and weed out spam. When the inquiries start, you can quickly delete any email that looks like spam. According to the "Minneapolis Star-Tribune," some scammers will send blanket emails to sellers simply asking "Is your item still available?" If the email is vague and generic, get rid of it. When it comes to other buyers, do not give details about your personal life. Keep the communication professional and short.

Deal with local Craigslist buyers. A local transaction is easier to manage and allows you more control over how and when you will meet.

Ask for cash and accept cash. A common Craigslist scam involves buyers paying sellers with money orders or cashiers checks. The seller goes to cash the check and later finds out it was fraudulent, leaving the seller responsible for any funds he spent. For large ticket items such as a car, meet the seller at his bank so that he can withdraw the cash or get a check directly from his bank.

Meet in a public place with plenty of people around. Never meet a buyer at your home nor his. Choose a coffee shop or other busy location. Avoid a big open area like a park where other people are less likely to notice you. Bring a friend or family member with you, or at least let someone know where you are going and when. Take a cellphone with you as an extra precaution.

About the Author

Based in Omaha, Neb., Amy Adkins has been a professional writer and editor since 2001. She writes primarily on the topic of health and health care and has experience in marketing communications, public relations, corporate communication and technical writing. She received her Master of Arts degree in communication from the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

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