Craigslist is one of the most popular websites for buying cars… and why shouldn't it be? Instead of finding and pouring over a hundred local dealer sites, you can see what all of the dealers in your area are selling in one simple search. Unfortunately, with popularity comes abuse. Scammers have latched on to the site at record numbers. Craigslist has made huge changes to how dealers post to combat the scammers, but with any website that commands millions of visitors each month it attracts bad people trying to separate you from your hard earned money. Here are the most common scams and some tips on how to avoid them.
“I’ll send you a verified check or money order. You can even wait for it to clear!”
Scammers are experts at creating top quality forged checks and money orders. They will even add validity to their claims by telling victims “go ahead and deposit the check, I’ll wait for it to clear your account”. The problem is most banks clear any checks that go into your account after a short waiting period (usually one to two days) and doesn't realize the check is bad and debit your account until days later. The money may be available to you and you may ever be able to withdraw the cash, but the bank will eventually realize the deception and take the money back out of your account, leaving you owing the bank whatever amount you used as well as any charges and fees.
“The company will verify that you’re satisfied 100% before releasing funds!”
“Whoops! I paid too much”
“I only trust Paypal! They will send you a confirmation once I've transferred the money.”
“I’ll send you a link to set up your account”
“I’ll meet you and show you the car, but I work late!”
“I’m very busy. Just enter your cell number in the link I send you and I’ll call you back when I’m free”In this one, a buyer will respond in email to your ad indicating that they are interested in your car. They will tell you that they are unable to talk at the moment, but if you just enter your information into their phone service on a site that stores phone numbers for them, they can call you back later. In reality, that “service” is actually signing you up for a monthly fee. The fee amount varies greatly, but phone storing sites that charge a nominal fee can be getting money from your account for months before you even notice. There’s also no way to cancel. Another version is to give you a number to call that appears to be their answering service. It’s actually a pay-per-call number, and you could be charged twenty dollars or more for the phone call.
“Don't Worry. I'm a guaranteed seller on Craigslist”
In this scheme, you’ll receive an “official” email supposedly from Craigslist ensuring you that they have completely verified the seller and they approve the transaction as safe. It will indicate that you are protected under Craigslist “refund policy” and will be reimbursed in the case that you are not completely satisfied. Again, the email is a fake, and the seller is off with your cash.
- DO NOT WIRE MONEY TO ANYONE!
- DO NOT meet people alone!
- DO NOT believe that Craigslist will help you when a transaction goes bad. Craigslist is very clear that it does not involve itself in any transaction.
- DO NOT purchase anything without seeing it. In person.
- DO NOT accept checks or money orders. ONLY accept verifiable funds.
- DO NOT use any kind of escrow service, “payment service” or Paypal.
- DO NOT deal with people “in a rush “or “oversees”.
- DO deal with dealers that list their name and address in the ad, along with their website.