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How to Know If a Craigslist Post Is Real?

by Victoria Bailey

Craigslist is one of the best known classified ad spots online, with everything from job offers to apartments for rent. Millions of people use Craigslist every month and many of them require a personal meeting to complete their deals. Like any public place, Craigslist has its share of bogus offers and fake ads. Take steps to make sure your job offer, apartment showing or couch for sale ad is a legitimate one before you drive off to meet a stranger with your cash or resume in your hand.

Call

If there is a phone number in the ad, call the number to find out more information. Make a list of questions about the post before you call, so you don't forget any details you want to know. Pay attention to the way the person is talking as well as what they're saying. If they deflect uncomfortable questions or change the subject, the ad may be bogus. If the ad only has an email address and the transaction will require a face-to-face meeting, email and ask for a phone number. If the person won't give it out, back away from this ad.

Investigate

Look for any background information you can find. If the ad is for a job, investigate the company. For an apartment or room for rent, drive by the building and talk with neighbors. If you're thinking of buying a used item, find out what the item was like when it was new and keep the original price in mind when judging the asking price for the used item.

Read Other Ads

If someone on Craigslist discovers a bogus ad, he often posts another ad warning readers about it. Read the rest of the offerings for the past week to see if this person has placed similar posts. If you find a warning post about the ad you were contemplating, email the warning poster to get more information.

Trust Your Feelings

One of the oldest sayings around is that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you've found a post offering a 4 bedroom home in Daytona Beach for $600 a month or a job working at home making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year right away, that little voice inside is probably right. If the post seems legitimate but the seller insists on meeting you in an isolated area after dark because he "only has free time after 9," go with your gut and skip this ad. Don't invite people to your home or go into unsafe areas; always meet in a public place during daylight hours.

Check Other Cities

If everything else seems legitimate with a Craigslist post, check the ads for other cities. Scammers often post the same ad in dozens of different city versions of Craigslist. If your job offer is posted for Seattle, Denver and Houston, the odds are good that this isn't a real job. There may be occasional multi-city posts but they will make sense, like someone selling concert tickets in the Orlando and Daytona Beach editions. These cities are a little more than an hour away, so the ad is more likely real.

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