We hear a lot about how constant moves for military families can negatively affect relationships and job opportunity for spouses but it is also important to consider how it may make the military community a vulnerable target for scammers on websites like Craigslist and what you can do to stay safe.
Without the use of a third party, you can buy or sell generally everything you need. But, buyer beware.
For this reason, Craigslist has become a great resource for military members in a pinch. but also a way for scammers to exploit a moving military family’s need to sell something quickly.
How Can I Get Scammed?
Protected email addresses do a lot to keep your personal information safe, but the majority of scammers on Craigslist aren’t looking to steal your identity or credit card number. They may contact you over a long distance offering more than your selling price in exchange for your cooperation with shipping and accepting a money order. In the end, falling for scammers like this can leave you owing money when a fake check doesn’t clear and you’ve already shipped the item.
What Are the Signs?
The best way to stay safe online is to recognize the signs of a scam beforehand so you can avoid it altogether. These are some of the telltale signs as shared by the Craigslist safety page that you’re dealing with a scammer.
- Grammar is used poorly and the message doesn’t make sense.
- Very general responses that don’t address anything specific in your ad may be a scammer’s generic email to elicit a response from you.
- A respondent interested in what you’re selling is very far away; this is especially true if you’re selling something basic like a couch.
- Any mention of a money order, cashier’s check or shipping companies.
- Ads or respondents claiming to have a “Craigslist Guarantee,” which does not exist.
Tips for Responsible Transactions
- Only deal local, this is the number one rule for Craigslist users.
- Create and use a generic email address specifically for Craigslist that doesn’t include your name or any personal information.
- Although it may be difficult with some items, always try to meet somewhere public.
- Never respond to emails from distant buyers offering to pay you with a money order.
- Never respond to an ad saying they will ship something after partial payment, these are almost always fake.
Is Craigslist Safe?
So what’s the final word on Craigslist safety? The answer is: as safe as you make it. You don’t need to put up any barbed wire, but be sure to take all of the necessary precautions to protect your identity, money, property and self. Exercise some healthy common sense to decide what seems suspicious and don’t get swept up in needing to get rid of something quickly.