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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Craigslist commandments: rules for avoiding scams

    We accumulate quite a bit of junk over time, but as the old saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Craigslist.com is a great way to get rid of items you no longer need, or to find less expensive versions of things you want but don’t already have. You can even barter. As useful as the free online classifieds service can be, the Internet allows people to remain anonymous, and anonymity can lead to scams. So, how can you use Craigslist and protect your best interests, all while getting a good deal on something you need?

    Divided into categories, from “”for sale”” to “”missed connections,”” the site offers anything and everything in terms of Internet community interaction. The “”for sale”” section boasts every category you could think of, which makes finding anything, from odd and rare items to those you need in your everyday life easy to track down. Need a new bookcase, a used textbook, a free piano or cheap guitar? Just give the site a gander. By following these basic steps, you can use Craigslist without worry.

    Rule #1:

    If you are posting on Craigslist, use the re-mailer option. This will randomize the email displayed in your post. This way you’re still getting the email but no one is getting your personal information. Think about how much spam you get on a daily basis. Now think about what would happen if you put your email out there on a site where people prey to spam. Do not post your personal information! This seems like common sense, but personal info like addresses and phone numbers pop up far too often. That’s just asking for trouble.

    Rule #2:

    If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is. If a 1962 Cherry Finish Gibson SG guitar pops up on Craigslist for $100 when it’s worth twenty times that, raise a red flag. Whether it’s not real or the person intends to take your money and run, there will be no positive outcome. Check into things, look up values, ask to see an item before you consider buying and consult someone who knows what its value should be.

    Rule #3:

    Once you are out in the harsh reality of the Craigslist world and someone knows how to contact you or you’ve contacted them, you are bound to be hit by a few obvious attempts to scam you out of your little bit of college cash. The most common way this will occur is via an attempt to get a cashier’s check. It’s a classic scheme that generally goes something like this: John Doe says he is going to give you a cashier’s check for double the worth of an item. Say you’re selling a biology textbook work $200, he will offer you a $400 check. He will give you some calculated story, like how his sister’s uncle’s dog walker owes them $400, but that person will simply write the check to you.

    As soon as the check clears John Doe will ask you to give him the $200. So, you will write him a check or wire the difference to John Doe, thinking he’s some nice guy who really needs this bio book. Within two weeks the bank will detect that the cashier’s check you were given was fraudulent. Suddenly, not only do you no longer have your bio book, but you are $400 in the hole. Don’t let this happen to you. The scam varies. Maybe a European single father is looking for a tutor or a nanny and replies. They ask to send you thousands of euros to cover their kid’s costs of travel … blah, blah, blah. Don’t buy it. Long story short, if the item is $1000 or less, stick to cash or beat it.

    Rule #4:

    Another note on personal info: as nice as someone may be when calling about an item or answering your call, don’t give out your full name and number. Try to keep your information private unless it is not possible to avoid it. It’s just another, better-safe-than-sorry situation. *67 blocks caller ID and hides your number – this is your friend. Use it.

    Rule #5:

    Look at the product before you exchange money and leave. Whether it’s a kitten or an over-stuffed couch, you must make sure it’s not an item that looks good but has easily hidden flaws. If those Gucci pumps in patent leather were $900 last season and go for $500 now, but you find them for $20, they are probably fake and not even worth that. Searching well-known brands can often get you good stuff, but make sure you’re really getting what you pay for.

    Rule #6:

    Don’t let this scare you – there are great things to be found on the site. Not only furniture, but pets too. Looking for something specific? When you search the site try searching for both the correct spelling and common errors. You’d be surprised at what you can find misspelled!

    So there you have it: the basics of Craigslist. Be smart and defensive and you will come out with some great pieces and move some of your own junk. If you’re looking for a laugh, be sure to read over some of the “”missed connections”” and “”Best of Craigslist”” – hilarity will ensue.

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