How to buy off of Craigslist

If you’re looking on craigslist, you’re either broke or very very desperate. Not saying that we aren’t either of those (or both) at some point in our lives, of course; but if you can, you should try to avoid craigslist, just as a rule of thumb, unless you’re a professional bargain hunter.

In case you aren’t sure what Craigslist is, or you have never bought anything or sold anything using this platform, we’ll give you a quick rundown. Craigslist is a place where you can buy or sell anything from toys, books, bikes, or ‘other’ things. You can also advertise your resume if you’re looking for a job, or find a job through it.

The listings on this online platform are basically like an online flea market; you can find free junk, almost free junk, garage sales, and other stuff at dirt-cheap prices. You’ll be sifting through a lot of crap, but if you’re broke and in need of a new air conditioner, that won’t matter to you whatsoever. Just expect a lot of great deals, and more importantly, rip-offs.

1. Stick to Craigslist.
If you get in contact with a seller and they immediately are trying to route you off of Craigslist to their own email or website, be careful. What they’re actually trying to do is get you away from the place you found them before you or the local authorities discover the fraud.

2. Verify who it is you’re talking to.
If you get to the point where you both agree and are serious about making a transaction, make sure to check who they are. If your previous conversations have all been either through the website, email or texting, a phone call might just be in order.

3. Try to widen your search.
Lifehacker recommends a software tool that widens your search to local cities, called ‘Searchalljunk.com’. If a seller is serious about selling something, then they will most likely try to put their item up for pickup, sale or trade in multiple cities. Especially if they’re close by, but they will also try to get their ads and listings into other local towns and municipalities.

4. Meet in a safe and busy location.
This is probably the most important tip that we have here. Under no circumstances whatsoever should you agree to meet at night, or in an area with a lot of private closed buildings, or any shady area. Choose a public and busy area during the morning, daytime or evening while there is still plenty of light out. If you are purchasing something cumbersome and large, like a TV, fridge, couch (, etc.), then you may want to recruit a friend to give you a hand.

5. Try to get some form of receipt.
If you are buying anything at all above $100 that is valuable or expensive, try to obtain some the receipt from the seller. This is extremely important because it would be your only form of legal documentation stating that you and another individual had a transaction. It is imperative because if anything went wrong, you would need some transaction history for any court proceedings that could occur.

6. Don’t wire or send money in the mail to anyone!
This sounds simple, but believe it or not, there are people all around the U.S that fall for this archaic type of skyping every day. If the item is located out of state and it needs to be shipped, try to perform the transaction through a website like Amazon, Ebay, or a similar service.

There you have it! If you need more safety tips, check out the below video or go to the Craigslist website, they have their own set of advice on how to perform a safe and legal transaction on their website. Good luck!