How to Avoid Scams on Craigslist

There are many ways to avoid being scammed on Craigslist as a seller or a buyer. But even with that, thousands of people find themselves in the need to deal with issues on the site. So, in this guide, I’ll show you how to avoid all the scammers on Craigslist as a buyer and seller.

But always, keep your personal information safe. Then, understand the danger of sharing sensitive data with strangers, no matter if they are on Craigslist or other online marketplaces and classified sites.

Avoid being scammed on Craigslist

Identify the person behind the ads

If you’re a buyer, always make sure you try to know who that person is on any Craigslist ad you deal with. It doesn’t matter if the product pictures are real or fake; you should always search for the real name and location of where that person is trying to sell the item. These people could be guys with criminal records that you can find out online.

Many online search tools can help you know who someone is on Craigslist with real names and even social profiles. Just make sure you have the name or the username of that guy. Also, read the full page description and add the city or the state of that ad to your search filter.

Let’s say, for example, that you know the product name, and even have some pictures of that ad. So, you should first search Google for that name. You may find an official website that you can check out and read the product description and prices.

In this case, compare the prices, and if it looks too low to what they should be, then you’re dealing with someone who posts ads for stolen items on Craigslist. That happens a lot, and you have to be careful with that.

Lookup their contact details

This should be a safe way to spot a scammer on Craigslist without contacting them. All you need is the phone number or email on the ad. Next, use reverse phone lookup tools and see who that mobile number belongs to. You may see the details like real name, home address, and Facebook profile.

Google is also a recommended search engine that can tell you more about the number or email account. But make sure you type it exactly as it appears on the Craigslist page to avoid getting someone else’s details.

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You can check who someone is on Craigslist by reversing-lookup the number on that ad like the following one.

identifying the person behind Craigslist Ad

Never share your bank details

There is no reason for someone to ask you for your bank account details unless he’s trying to scam you. Also, don’t share your real name or other personal information with sellers and buyers on Craigslist.

Many guys from other countries try to get personal information about people. Then, they hack their bank accounts and social media profiles before asking for money or other things. This is a serious security and privacy issue you should consider when posting ads online.

They’re lying to you

How many times have you received fake emails in your email inbox telling you that you’re awesome and the person is in love with you? If not yet, you’re lucky or have little presence online with personal details. In fact, scammers from foreign countries try to find ads on craigslist and contact the seller with different emails that have nothing to do with the subject.

So, you may get some beautiful girl pictures in your email with text or other details asking you for a chat. That, for sure, is a scammer and not even a girl who tries to redirect you to a suspicious URL and get access to your computer, phone, or other types of hacks.

For that reason, never respond to someone from Craigslist sending you dating or adult-related emails. That’s a 10000% scam. You can always find out all the accounts behind those emails and see the names.

If the craigslist scammer is telling you that he has your address, that’s not a thing to worry about. That could be someone who found your home address on Google or social media profiles that you forget about. Or, they might use your email to find the address. They’re just trying to make you worried about that when they live in foreign countries.

Never use wires or International bank transfer

If someone is telling you that you need to wire him the price of the service or items, then he’s trying to scam you on Craigslist. Also, people from places that are far away may ask you for Western Union or Moneygram. Do you know why? It’s simply because they live on other continents and not in the US.

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So, when they get your money transferred to them, they delete the ad or the Craigslist account and create a new one for other victims.

Always identify their pictures

Once you find pictures on that Craigslist ad or in your email, the best thing you can do is to use google images and upload the file for reverse search. Next, you’ll see the search results with that same photo on Google. From there, it should be easy to tell if the person behind the ad is a romance scammer or not.

Many fraud alert websites post about common scam attempts and list the names of people and even pictures of them and their products. So, this is a good way to spot a scammer on Craigslist using the phone number on his ad only.

Should you really give them your email?

The short answer is No, all the way. You don’t have to share your email address with anyone on Craigslist. Remember this. If someone is trying to sell you things or buy from you and ask for your Gmail account, then he’s trying to hack your email or search for information on you online.

That means that buyer or seller is not interested in the services, but your personal details and contact numbers. They can list your email on the dark web, so be careful with that.

Meantime, you can create a fake email address and use a VPN to hide your real IP. Then, send that secondary email address to your suspicious client or seller on Craigslist and tell him to send you a message for confirmation.

Now, your goal is to get that scammer’s email address with IP on it. After that, you should search Google for that email. Anyway, the IP address behind it can show you if that guy is from another state or country. Just use IP lookup tools online and save time.

Too good to be true

If you’re getting deals on Craigslist that seem cheap, but the real price of the product or service is high, then that’s a red flag of a scam. The same thing applies to model photos that scammers send in emails or post on their ads on the site.

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Thus, if these photos look too professional, they’re of someone else. So, that unknown person is trying to use other people’s pictures for fraud.

When you see rental ads in an expensive area across the USA, ask yourself if that deal is true or fake. Then, use Google search and look for prices of homes or other types of properties and rental services in your local area.

Do they ask for your Paypal?

This is another type of scam that you should be aware of on Craigslist. Many scammers find sellers’ ads and contact them by email or, in other ways asking for the email to send money through PayPal. If that’s the case with you, then the man is not going to send you any cent on PayPal. Instead, he’s interested in your bank details, and who knows what he’s willing to do.

The best way to sell items on Craigslist is to have your own website with a credit card payment system. That’s not a big deal, for something like dozens of dollars a month. You can create your own online store and link a trusted credit card processing system that takes care of transactions and limits fraud.

Also, you should never accept certified checks from people on Craigslist. They have their own scam tactics that you can easily avoid by telling buyers that they can buy the product from your official store or site through a credit card.

On the other hand, if you want to buy a product, then paying with cash is the safest way to buy items on Craigslist. That way, you can see the seller in person and even check the product’s condition before giving your money.


These are the things that you can do to avoid scams on Craigslist. So, make sure you apply these tips and verify who the person is always. Don’t waste your time with guys who pretend to buy from you when they’re not.

Also, when you sell on Craigslist, protect your business with a secure website where you can stop worrying about customers. If you use Craigslist like once in a while, then, do the above verifications to know with whom you are dealing and if they’re real or fake ads.

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