The Single Best Way to Avoid Getting Screwed on Craigslist

Illustration for article titled The Single Best Way to Avoid Getting Screwed on Craigslist

Buying or selling anything of value on craigslist can be terrifying because bad people can steal your money or property. But one simple piece of advice can make buying or selling expensive things a million times safer:

Meet in a bank lobby.

Being in a bank takes care of the cash problem. You don't have to carry a huge wad of bills in or out of the branch. Neither does your counterpart. You can either withdraw at the counter or the ATM, and simultaneously have the cash confirmed as real and deposit it to an account. That's a big deal when dealing with high value items like a laptop, tablet, or decent phone.

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The bank setting also alleviates secondary concerns, like being intimidated into accepting worse-than-promised gear, or a lower-than-discussed price. Most people aren't going to be nuts enough to get violent in a bank. And you'll also probably have access to an outlet in case you need to plug in and power on any gear that's "just out of battery."

Big purchases and sales still come with a massive dose of caveat emptor/venditor, but going in knowing your meeting place is totally secure will be a huge load off your mind.

Note: Of course, in addition to that, you're going to want to take all of the precautions that a normal, sensible human being would: check out the goods in photos beforehand; if you're buying a computer or other electronic device, insist on booting up, checking specs, etc. But those are very obvious, and don't address everyone's real, secret fear on craigslist. Namely, someone beating you up and stealing your phone or your money.

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DISCUSSION

MAKE2 Mifune

I don't think I could ever bring myself to buying a big ticket item like a laptop off of craigslist. The majority of sellers seem outrageously ignorant, to borderline criminal, for the prices they ask on 2 year old gear.

This is why I tend to only buy furniture related items from CL and have had nothing but good luck and good person to person experiences; I think it's more because the run of the mill criminal is focused on smaller, more expensive things, with higher turnaround.

If you use a bank to conduct a transaction, I recommend not using the local branch you normally use, otherwise you might get kicked out- if it's not bank business, they'll probably want you to take it elsewhere, or it could invite you to increased scrutiny. (ie: Same guy keeps coming in and conducting person to person transactions without using any bank services, they might think you are casing the place and forward info to the local PD)