Safe Places to Meet for a Craigslist Exchange
By Denise Sullivan
Craigslist can be a great place to sell used video games, furniture or other household goods -- however, it can also be dangerous because you must meet a complete stranger to make the exchange. Try to work with local buyers and sellers whenever possible. This gives you more control over the meeting place and reduces your chances of being scammed. People from the same area are less likely to be part of an organized nationwide scam. Never send money or goods ahead of time, especially if the seller is requesting Western Union, bank wires or other irrevocable means of payment.
Places to Avoid
Obviously, you should not meet at the other person's home or invite him into yours. Avoid dark, deserted places and large open areas such as parks or parking lots where the crowd may be sparse and you will not have many people around to help you. Even if people are present, they may not notice trouble occurring from afar.
Meet in Public
Always meet in a public place where bystanders can see the transaction taking place, such as a coffee shop, restaurant or bookstore. Having other people around deters inappropriate behavior and gives you someone to call for help if things start to go wrong. Do not agree to go to a more secluded area after you have talked for awhile. This is a common tactic scammers use to make you comfortable enough to let your guard down.
Take a Companion
Bring a friend or family member to the meeting, if possible. If you cannot find anyone to go with you, at least tell someone when and where you will be meeting to make the exchange. Give your friends as much personal information about the other party as possible. Make sure you are not followed home from the exchange location.
Wherever you decide to meet the other party, take extra precautions to ensure your safety. Do not give the other party any of your personal details. Use email only and purchase a pay-as-you-go cell phone if you must give out your phone number. Take your cell phone with you and make sure it is fully charged. Only accept cash as payment and make sure you receive the full amount before letting the other party leave. Scammers often use a fake cashier's check or money order so you will not find out it is fraudulent until later when you attempt to cash it.
Denise Sullivan has been writing professionally for more than five years after a long career in business. She has been published on Yahoo! Voices and other publications. Her areas of expertise are business, law, gaming, home renovations, gardening, sports and exercise.