Is Craigslist Safe? What You Need to Know Before Using the Platform | VeePN Blog (2024)

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You’ve probably heard a lot about Craigslist, the most popular platform for buying or selling almost anything that comes to mind, renting an apartment, or even finding a job. But as with any other marketplace, Craigslist isn’t entirely safe because of scammers trying to deceive users with their too-good-to-be-true offers. Some of them are huge. For example, recently, a scammer “sold” a 1967 Camaro they never owned for almost $15,000 to an unsuspecting victim.

But apart from threats, there are tried and tested methods to protect yourself. In this article, we’ll share some Craigslist safety tips and explain how to spot a scam listing while buying/selling items on this platform.

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May 1, 2024

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Is Craigslist Safe? What You Need to Know Before Using the Platform | VeePN Blog (38) Quick Navigation

1. Craigslist security measures
2. The most frequent Craigslist scams
3. How to spot a scam on Craigslist
4. Main Craigslist safety tips to follow
5. VeePN is your best VPN for Craigslist
6. FAQ

Craigslist security measures

First of all, let’s clarify how safe Craigslist is. The platform applies the following security measures to protect its users:

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  • Data encryption. Craigslist uses Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption to protect your data as it’s moving between your device and the platform’s servers. If you need to pay for an ad of your listing, Craigslist will switch to Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption to keep your credit card information safe when sending it to payment processors.
  • Email obfuscation. Craigslist hides your email address to keep it safe. When you want to reply to an ad, Craigslist gives you a special email address. So if someone replies to you, their message goes to this special address first, then gets forwarded to your real email.
  • Posts flagging. Craigslist allows you to flag scams and other posts that break the platform’s rules. When many users flag a post, Craigslist deletes it.
  • Banning malicious links. Craigslist guards against phishing scams by prohibiting clickable links in ads. Yet, scammers may sidestep this rule by embedding links within images or image texts.
  • No user data collection. ​​Craigslist assures users that it doesn’t share their personal information with third parties or use tracking cookies for marketing.

But even these security measures aren’t enough to protect Craigslist from scams and phishing attempts. That’s why you have to be aware of the most widespread scams on the platform to avoid being tricked.

The most frequent Craigslist scams

Since Craigslist is a marketplace where you can buy/sell almost anything, there are many ways how fraudsters can entice you into their trap. Here’s the most common Craigslist scams you may encounter on the platform:

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  • Middleman rental scam. A Craigslist rental scam, when a scammer impersonates a friend or relative of property owners claiming it to be temporarily unavailable, is quite common. The goal is to convince you to wire them a month’s rent upfront to secure the rental, while the actual owner has no clue their property is used for scams.
  • Escrow fraud. If a seller suggests using a specific escrow service, especially if it’s one they recommend, this is a red flag and a sign of fraud. If you’re the seller, they might ask you to ship the item after they transfer funds to a fake escrow account, leaving you unable to claim the payment.
  • Phishing/spoofed website. Phishing scams on Craigslist are sneaky attempts to steal your personal info like passwords, account details, and financial data. Scammers make fake listings or respond to yours and trick you into giving sensitive info. They might pretend to be buyers or sellers, using convincing stories to get you to click on harmful links for identity verification or transactions.
  • Job scam. Exercise caution when considering job offers that seem overly attractive or lack specific details. You may be asked to disclose personal or financial information to proceed with the job application. But in reality, this can be scammers trying to get access to your social media or bank accounts.
  • Email recovery scam. In this Craigslist email scam, criminals attempt to hijack your email account using the information provided in your email signature. Also, scammers may send you a private message requesting you to follow the link for email recovery to confirm your identity.
  • Buyer scam. As a seller on Craigslist, be careful when dealing with buyers who offer to pay extra money and insist on paying by check. Personal checks can bounce, and cashier’s checks or money orders can be forged. Even if a check clears initially, it may be denied later, leaving you with nothing.
  • Seller scam. Another common scam on Craigslist involves sellers requesting in-advance wire transfers to secure a purchase or pay the full amount. If the seller insists on receiving payment through PayPal, cashier’s check, or money order in advance, it is a red flag.

Considering all these types of Craigslist scams we’ve discussed above, buying or selling items on this platform feels like walking through a minefield. But if you know how to detect a fraud, your chances of getting scammed significantly decrease. Keep on reading to learn how you can recognize a scam on Craigslist.

How to spot a scam on Craigslist

The following scam signs may come alone or in combination with each other. In any case, it has to be a warning for you:

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  • Too-good-to-be-true offers. For instance, If you come across a car listing with an unusually low price, suspiciously low mileage, and pictures showing a perfectly looking car – sorry, it’s likely a scam.
  • Vague item description. Legitimate sellers usually provide comprehensive details about the item or service they’re offering. If you see a listing with vague or generic description that could fit any other item, it’s a sign of a potential scam.
  • Personal information request. If you get a message requesting your personal details such as your social security number, bank account information, or login credentials, it’s a scam.
  • Poor grammar of the item’s description. Another warning sign to watch out for is poor grammar in a listing. Many scammy listings contain language errors and awkward wording that leaves you with more questions than answers.
  • Pressure to act fast. Scammers frequently use manipulative tactics to create a sense of urgency, forcing you to act quickly. They may claim that an item is in high demand or offer a “special” limited-time deal to pressure you into making a hasty decision.
  • Item doesn’t match the description. If you see a listing with an item that doesn’t match the pictures or description provided, it’s a clear sign that you’re not getting what you are looking for.
  • Seller refuses to meet in person. If a seller avoids meeting in person or doesn’t want to be seen, it’s a potential scam indicator. A reliable seller will typically agree to meet in a safe, public location to sell you the item you are interested in.

Paying attention to these signs will significantly help you avoid scams on Craigslist. But you can reduce the risks of being scammed by following some safety tips that we’re about to discuss next.

Main Craigslist safety tips to follow

For you to feel more confident that you won’t get scammed, we’ve prepared some security. Follow these recommendations to stay safe at Craigslist:

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  • Ask to meet in person. Selecting a public meeting place is crucial for your Craigslist deals. Opt for busy locations like shopping centers, popular coffee shops, or similar. Avoid going into the seller’s home or meeting after dark. If the contact suggests an shady location or refuses to meet in public, it’s best to back out of the deal.
  • Buy locally. Trading with people from your local area allows you to conduct your Craigslist transactions in person. This approach ensures face-to-face interaction, an ability to inspect the item, and immediate exchange of goods for money.
  • Inspect the item. Before finalizing the deal and making a Craigslist transaction, carefully inspect the item to ensure it’s intact and in working condition. If the item is packaged, take your time to unpack it and verify its contents. Unfortunately, there have been cases when people purchased smartphones in sealed boxes only to find random objects inside when unboxing at home, so it’s better to be meticulous than deceived.
  • Pay with cash or use a secure payment method. When conducting in-person transactions, cash is often the safest option. However, if you prefer digital payment methods, opt for secure and traceable options such as PayPal. These platforms offer buyer protection options, providing peace of mind during your Craigslist transactions.
  • Study the seller/buyer. Study the other party involved in the transaction. Take the time to investigate if they have a history on Craigslist or other online platforms. Look for reviews or feedback from previous transactions to gain insights into their reliability and trustworthiness. This extra step can help you make more informed decisions and minimize the risk of potential scams.
  • Ask for additional photos and information. Don’t hesitate to ask for more details or additional photos of the item you’re interested in. Scammers frequently use stock images or photos from other listings to deceive buyers. Requesting more information can help you verify the authenticity of the listing.
  • Use reverse image search. If you have doubts about the authenticity of the item’s images, consider using a reverse image search tool. This allows you to see if the pictures appear elsewhere on the Internet, which could indicate a fake listing.
  • Don’t pay in advance. Paying for an item or service in advance can put you at risk of being scammed, as it allows the seller to take your money and disappear. Instead, make sure that the item matches the description or receive the service before paying for it.
  • Never share personal information. Never, never, and once again together, never disclose your personal or financial information to strangers online. Your Craigslist contact doesn’t need to know details like your bank account number, home address, or date of birth. While you might share your cell phone number with someone you’re meeting in person, refrain from providing any further personal details to safeguard your Internet privacy.
  • Don’t click on any links. If your Craigslist contact sends you a link embedded in text or image, or if the post contains such links, it’s better to avoid interacting with them. Clicking on unknown links could potentially infect your device with malware, leading to data theft.
  • Use a virtual private network (VPN). By using a VPN app, you’ll encrypt all your Internet traffic and pass it through a separate “tunnel” to a remote server. In such a way, you’ll safeguard your personal information and conceal your identity. Refrain from using free VPN apps, as just like Craigslist scammers, such good-looking offers may turn out to be scammers trying to collect your sensitive information and sell it to third parties.

Instead, try VeePN —a premium VPN that follows a strict No Logs policy and offers solid data protection without sacrificing connection speeds.

VeePN is your best VPN for Craigslist

VeePN is the most reliable VPN for Craigslist as it can guarantee you a bulletproof online security and additional protection features such as:

  • AES 256-bit encryption. This encryption standard ensures high-level security and is trusted by the US government for protecting classified information.
  • Double VPN. This feature adds one more layer of security by encrypting your traffic on its way to a remote server and after reaching it.
  • NetGuard. As a part of VeePN subscription, this antimalware app can protect your device from malware hidden in pop-ads and phishing links you may accidentally click on.
  • Breach alerts. In case your email address, passwords, or credit card details leak into the hands of scammers, you’ll be notified to take preventive actions.

Download VeePN today to protect up to 10 of your devices with just one subscription and have a 30-day money-back guarantee!

Is Craigslist Safe? Essential Insights Before Using It

  • What is Craigslist?

    Craigslist is a website where you can find or post ads for jobs, housing, items for sale, services, and community events in your local area. It’s a popular way for people to connect and trade within their communities online. Read this article to learn whether Craigslist is safe to use.

  • How safe is Craigslist?

    Craigslist safety can vary depending on the specific situation and how users interact. While many transactions occur smoothly, there have been cases of scams, fraudulent postings, and even criminal activities arranged through the platform. To enhance safety, you should exercise caution, meet in public places for transactions, avoid sharing personal or financial information, and use a robust VPN service like VeePN to safeguard your Internet privacy.

  • Are Craigslist ads legit?

    Craigslist ads can be legitimate, but you should be cautious as there are also many fraudulent or misleading postings on the platform. It’s essential to thoroughly vet listings, verify the identity and credibility of the seller, and use common sense when arranging transactions. Learn other ways to protect yourself from Craigslist scams in this article.

  • Is Craigslist Safe? What You Need to Know Before Using the Platform | VeePN Blog (43)

    Written by VeePN Research Lab VeePN Research Lab is dedicated to provide you latest posts about internet security and privacy.

    Is Craigslist Safe? What You Need to Know Before Using the Platform | VeePN Blog (44)

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    Is Craigslist Safe? What You Need to Know Before Using the Platform | VeePN Blog (2024)


    Is Craigslist Safe? What You Need to Know Before Using the Platform | VeePN Blog? ›

    Craigslist is a legitimate website, and most Craigslist posts are legitimate and trustworthy as well. However, just like any other online platform, it can be used by scammers. Some people may post fraudulent listings only pretending to sell goods or services, so take precautions to ensure your safety.

    How safe is Craigslist? ›

    Yes, you can still get scammed with in-person transactions on Craigslist. Scammers may sell counterfeit or stolen items, or the item might differ from what was advertised. To reduce this risk, inspect the item in detail before paying, meet in a safe, public location, and avoid carrying large amounts of cash.

    Is it safe to text on Craigslist? ›

    Craigslist text scams can start with the other party saying they want to confirm you aren't a scammer. Don't give out any codes sent to your phone, especially if it says it's for verifying your identity. The code is for a Google Voice account the scammer set up using your number.

    How to know if a Craigslist reply is real? ›

    Here are five signs that someone might be trying to pull a fast one on you:
    1. They Won't Come See the Item in Person. ...
    2. The Email Reply Doesn't Refer to the Specific Item You're Selling. ...
    3. The Buyer 'Accidentally' Overpays. ...
    4. They Ask for Personal or Financial Information. ...
    5. The Buyer Refuses to Meet at a Public Place.
    Mar 21, 2019

    What should I be careful of on Craigslist? ›

    One of the most important Craigslist precautions is to be wary of scammers. In almost all cases, you are best off accepting cash for a Craigslist sale. Personal checks can bounce, and scammers can fake cashier's checks and money orders.

    Does Craigslist reveal your email? ›

    To protect buyer and seller privacy, Craigslist keeps email addresses hidden. However, even with this security system, you might want to take additional precautions when responding to emails from Craigslist.

    Should I give my phone number on Craigslist? ›

    Scammers are getting pretty sneaky and are collecting personal phone numbers through Craigslist Ads. Case in point, when you're placing an ad or responding to an ad, avoid using your personal phone number to communicate with buyers or sellers.

    Should you give out your address on Craigslist? ›

    Never disclose your personal or financial information to strangers online. There is no need for your Craigslist contact to know your bank account number, home address, or date of birth.

    Do people still use Craigslist? ›

    Do People Still Use Craigslist? Absolutely. You can search your local area on Craigslist and find used furniture, cars, rentals, and even jobs. However, because so many Craigslist alternatives exist, it is no longer a one-stop shopping powerhouse when it debuted in 1995.

    Why do people want a 6 digit code on Craigslist? ›

    The scammer pretends to be interested in buying the item and asks the seller to provide them with a “secret code” that was sent to their phone via a text message. The scammer claims that they need this code to verify the seller's identity and proceed with the transaction.

    Are there bots on Craigslist? ›

    Additionally, bot-generated ads will often have odd spacing on the page, or be formatted strangely, or just be simply too good to be true. They are designed to stand out and entice the un-savvy to reply. Frequently, bot-generated ads will have photos that can help you identify whether the ad is legitimate.

    Is Venmo safe for Craigslist? ›

    If you are a seller, you're taking a significant risk by accepting Venmo payments. Remember, Venmo says you shouldn't use the app for informal sales, like Craigslist or Facebook market. The company can reverse Venmo payments you receive after they hit your account.

    Why is Craigslist so shady? ›

    The Dark Side: Scammers, Stalkers, and Setups. Scammers use Craigslist to steal money from unsuspecting victims by placing fraudulent advertisem*nts with incredible deals. Buyers are asked to send money orders or checks online, and after making payment, never receive their item.

    Where do Craigslist replies go? ›

    A: Replies to live posts are relayed to poster's email address.

    How to verify a Craigslist seller? ›

    1. Talk to the person on the phone, if possible, about the deal. If you have to email them first to make the initial contact, ask them for their phone number so you can talk more about the item. ...
    2. Meet the person you're doing business with in a public place, such as a coffee shop. ...
    3. Complete your transaction in cash.

    What is the safest way to collect money on Craigslist? ›

    Craiglist Safety Tips for Sellers
    1. Meet in a public place if selling face-to-face.
    2. Request cash payment when exchanging in person.
    3. If you're shipping your item, use a service such as PayPal for more security.
    4. Never accept a money order; this is usually a scam.

    What is Craigslist most used for? ›

    With more than 80 million new classified advertisem*nts each month, Craigslist is the leading classifieds service in any medium.

    What is the best payment method to not get scammed? ›

    Secure online payment methods
    • Credit cards. By and large, credit cards are easily the most secure and safe payment method to use when you shop online. ...
    • ACH payments. ...
    • Stored payment credentials. ...
    • Credit cards with EMV chip technology. ...
    • Credit cards with contactless payment. ...
    • Payment apps.
    Feb 11, 2023


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