Are you selling or buying something off of Craigslist for the first time? Our seven Craigslist precautions will help prepare you for your first transaction!

  1. Make sure the transaction is worth your time
  2. Always use a proxy email address
  3. Plan details in advance
  4. Meet in public and bring a friend
  5. Stay safe when a buyer comes to your house
  6. Accept cash only
  7. Trust your instincts when vetting buyers

Old clothes, furniture, automobiles—you can buy or sell almost anything on Craigslist or other popular sites, like Facebook Marketplace. According to Statistics Brain, 40 million new classified ads are published on Craigslist every month.1

If you've heard some of the horror stories of online marketplaces, don't be nervous. As long as you follow Craigslist precautions, selling items online is a great way to clean out clutter while making extra money. Here are important tips on how to sell on Craigslist safely.

Make sure the transaction is worth your time

Selling on Craigslist takes time; you'll need to answer queries, meet with potential buyers and handle the final transaction. It's probably not worth it if you only have one or two inexpensive items to sell, but if you're selling a big-ticket item—like furniture, jewelry or designer clothing—it may be time well spent.

Always use a proxy email address

Craigslist provides proxy email addresses to sellers, and it's a good idea to use them so browsers can't spam your actual email address. Once a potential buyer is truly interested, however, it's okay to switch communication to your cell phone; most buyers appreciate being able to text. If you're the one browsing, send questions to sellers through an email address you solely use for Craigslist.

Plan details in advance

You don't want a meeting with a stranger to go sour, so establish the selling price, type of payment, time and place for the meeting, and any special circumstances, such as a title exchanges, before agreeing to meet in person.

Meet in public and bring a friend

If meeting with a Craigslist contact to buy or sell a small item, take along a buddy and meet in a public place. Coffee shops, malls or even the parking lot of the local police station are all possibilities. Keep your cell phone handy and turned on during the meeting.

Stay safe when a buyer comes to your house

If you are selling furniture or other large items, the buyer will probably come to your home. Use these Craigslist precautions to make the transaction more comfortable.

  • Get the buyer's full name and cell phone number prior to meeting. Text them an hour in advance to confirm they are coming. This way, if there's a problem, you have their information in your phone.
  • If at all possible, move the item into your garage or driveway prior to the meeting. Keep the garage door open during your meeting, and lock the entrance to your home.
  • Have a family member or friend at home with you.
  • Meet during the daytime. If that isn't possible, make sure to turn on as many lights as possible around the area where you'll be standing.

If you are the one buying, bring a friend with you. If that's not possible, make certain to let a friend or family member know where you are going, who you are meeting with and the time of the meeting. Don't enter the seller's home unless it's absolutely necessary, and keep your cell phone within reach.

Accept cash only

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.

If the transaction is for an expensive item, such as a car, meet the seller at the bank, and have them draw and deliver the cashier's check right then and there. Never agree to wire money, accept wired money or take a check for more than the purchase price.

Trust your instincts when vetting buyers

Possibly the most important Craigslist precaution is that there's no substitute for your intuition. If something seems too good to be true, or just doesn't feel right, listen to that little voice or uneasy feeling. Don't be embarrassed to walk away from a transaction that sets off red flags.

Knowing how to sell on Craigslist safely boils down to common sense and general precautions. Don't let a few horror stories scare you away from this fairly easy and lucrative way to declutter.


  1. "Craigslist Statistics." Statistic Brain. September 27, 2016. Accessed April 12, 2018.

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