Luckily, with modern technology, the exchange of goods and services can happen in a click. Long gone are the days of newspaper classifieds, when buying and selling second-hand goods and services was a chore. Nowadays Craigslist is the go-to site for online classifieds, but with this new service comes a different set of problems.
Craigslist Pros and Cons
Craigslist is the most popular site to exchange goods and services. The local search capability and user-friendly features make it appealing to most online users. However, it has also attracted negative attention due to its “adult” services and various scams. Different users have different experiences.
- Anyone can use it. No need to sign up, join a club, or get a tutorial. Anyone who has basic computer skills can buy and post.
- It’s local and fast. As a seller, you can post any and everything instantly. As a buyer, you don’t have to pay for shipping, wait, or wonder what you’re going to get. You can meet sellers in person, see the condition of items, and make sure that couch fits in your truck.
- Price is negotiable. Sellers are eager to get rid of stuff, so you can usually bargain.
- It’s free. There’s no charge to search or post.
- It’s anonymous. You can search without logging in, and seller’s email isn’t available unless you respond.
- Anyone can use – and abuse – it. The system isn’t immune to scam artists.
- It’s anonymous. You don’t know who is buying and selling, which brings a certain amount of risk to any in-person interactions or exchanges.
- No oversight. Some complain of dishonest selling tactics, outdated posts, etc. There’s also no rating system to keep sellers accountable or alert other interested parties to potential problems.
- Limited posting dates. In an effort to avoid people flooding the site with too many ads, users are only allowed to post for a certain amount of time (only seven days in major cities), which may not be enough time to sell your item.
Using Craigslist Safely
If you decide to use the site, do your best to safeguard your online interactions. Keep the following tips in mind to make sure you have a good Craigslist experience, whether you’re buying or selling.
Use a separate email address. Get a separate address just for your Craigslist activity. Many free email accounts allow you to forward mail to your regular account. This is an added safeguard that helps you keep your Craisglisting separate.
Verify job listings. If you’re job-hunting on the site, request company information to verify the listing before you send a resume that may contain personal contact information.
Don’t share personal information. Be wary of anyone requesting specific financial or personal information. Carefully consider who you share your phone number with, and avoid having meeting people at your home. Choose a public spot during daylight hours if meeting to look at or exchange something.
Don’t accept personal checks. Request cash or a money order to avoid being scammed with a forged check. Don’t release your personal financial information either.
Use common sense. Anything that sounds too good to be true or seems sketchy should be avoided. If someone is insisting on meeting in person or contacting you aggressively, trust your gut. Flag any posting you are suspicious of.