Using Craigslist with a dose of skepticism and your scam radar set to 10 is a great way to move iron. Do it wrong though and your car can be taken leaving you with no payment and lot of headaches, or much, much worse. Here’s how to stay safe and make Craigslist work for you.
Craigslist is a huge enterprise, so it is no surprise that those with bad intentions use it as a tool against their victims. This week the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) issued a warning video about a new scam that has spread to many U.S. states.
Here is how the newest scam works. First, a prospective buyer contacts the seller from out of state. The fake buyer pretends they want the vehicle but are too busy to come and get it themselves. They offer payment in the form of a bank check, which they will even send directly to your bank for verification. What could go wrong? After all, you get to hear from the bank that the check has been received.
The busy buyer says they will send a vehicle pickup service to fetch the car making things even easier for you. The service arrives and takes the car. Shortly thereafter, you get a call from the bank saying that the check they told you had been received turned out to be fake. The crooks carefully time the arrival of the bank check at the local bank and the pickup service so that they can take the car while the check is pending being cleared. This was news to us. We thought bank checks were the same as cash, and once received by your bank were instantly verified. They are not.
- So what can you do to prevent this, or another scam when using Craigslist? Simply follow the Craigslist guidelines for a start.
- Always meet the potential buyer in a public place. NICB suggests your local police station parking lot.
- Always get a copy of the potential buyer’s ID. Take a photo of the buyer’s license and the registration from the car the they arrived in. Tell the buyer you will need that in advance of setting up the appointment.
- Once you have payment, deposit the check at your bank in person.
- Ask the teller and manager to verify the check is valid before you transfer the title to the new owner.
The video attached has more suggestions and goes into more details on the scope of the scam. Used properly Craigslist is safe. A little preparation and attention to detail can go a long way in ensuring you have a good experience.