Craigslist originated in 1995 as a free web-based classified advertisement, featuring local events in San Francisco. It has now expanded to over 50 countries with a greater number of classified categories. While mostly free to advertise, they now charge a fee for job listings. I have found Craigslist to still be one of the best forms of online classified advertising around. It is obviously very popular in the Bay Area and used by 60 million people in the US a month. While a great resource for the community, there are unfortunately, people who abuse the site to scam others. I believe that Craigslist is still a great place to buy and sell or look for services, as long as you take the necessary precautions.
Tips for Using Craigslist
If you are trying to sell, post services, or rent out a property, try to avoid taking personal checks, cashier’s check or money orders as there is greater risk of forged checks or insufficient funds and you will be held responsible. Never wire funds and beware of those who say that they will overpay and ask you to pay back the difference.
Do not include personal information in your ad, such as phone number, home address, or personal email. I would suggest creating a brand new email account with Yahoo or Google and using that as your preferred method of response. Otherwise, you can use Craigslist “anonymous” reply option, where your personal information will not be displayed.
When searching for a job on Craigslist, make sure you have enough pertinent information prior to sending in a resume. For example, inquire about the business, ask for a website, ask for name of contact for position and phone number—simply very detailed information to help verify that it is a legitimate business and a legitimate job opportunity.
If you are planning to meet somebody in person to sell or purchase an item, I highly advise that you bring a friend or family member along and meet up during the day in a highly populated area, like a Starbucks cafe or Barnes and Nobles. Never go alone, avoid dark, isolated areas, and do not offer to meet at your home.
Lastly, trust your instinct. Usually, if the ad or situation doesn’t feel right or make sense, then it is probably best to avoid. Be extra cautious when buying or selling high value items. Fortunately, the majority of Craigslist users are trust worthy and have good intentions. However, it never hurts to take simple precautions.