Anyone familiar with the internet knows that Craigslist is a mostly free classified ad web site, not unlike the print versions of classifieds you might find at the entryway if your local convenience store through which you can reach people who might want your goods or services locally or nationwide.
People place a variety of ads for things like jobs, services, cars and truck, farm supplies, pets and personals. The difference between a conventional classified ads platform and Craigslist is that there is not much oversight on what goes into their online ads.
When you run an ad on Craigslist, you can include images and almost any other information you want to post that gets past its filters. You can put your e-mail address out for people to contact you or you can keep that information private and be contacted only by phone. The web site includes phone verification and e-mail verification for some ads. You can also sign up for an account with them. Advertisements for “Help Wanted” now require a fee.
It should all seems pretty harmless, except that Craigslist has been the facilitator for human traffickers, serial killers, scammers of all kinds and a variety of rapists and killers. Through it all, Craigslist has taken little, if any, responsibility.
Anytime you make contact with strangers, you run certain risks. But, since Craigslist is, apparently, the devil’s playground, if you do run an advertisement or answer on one Craigslist, there are certain security precautions you should take to protect yourself.
When you run an ad, put the least amount of information in the ad you can. If you are advertising your business, which is not at your home, you can put your business address in the ad. Don’t put your home address in the ad.
If you put a phone number in the ad, make it a business line and not a personal one. Anybody can trace you by your phone number, particularly if you are using a traditional land line service. This means they can figure out where you live in less than five minutes even if you didn’t put your home address in the ad. Use a disposable type of phone service like Magic Jack or a pre-paid phone service so that you can easily change the number if you begin receiving unwanted phone calls.
Never divulge your credit card or bank information to people. If you’re making a purchase, use a safe third-party service like PayPal. Be on guard for stolen goods and fake currency, also.
Do not fall prey to the many scammers that scour Craigslist. Even if you request :no offers of services” (this is a box you can check), you will probably receive spam e-mails as a result of placing your ad on Craigslist. Some of these are very clever attempts to get your personal information. Others are usually poorly written e-mails with a sob story, again, attempting to get your bank account information.
When you are buying or selling items on Craigslist, always meet the people in a safe place where you are surrounded by other people you know. For example, if you are trading cars or trucks, have the people meet you at your work place or some other familiar place where there lots of people. You can very quickly become a crime statistic if you go to a stranger’s house.
This is something to keep firmly in mind because people think it could never happen to them until it does. Remember the “Craigslist Babysitter Killer,” who ran classified ads for babysitters and then sexually tortured and killed the respondents when they arrived at their home? They weren’t expecting a killer when they responded to a classified ad, either.
Personal ads carry risk whether they are on Craigslist or elsewhere. But, consider the case of the married congressman posting lies about his marital status and semi-nude photos of himself in the Craigslist classifieds in an attempt to lure women. The article, “Married GOP Congressman Sent Sexy Pictures to Craigslist Babe,” by Maureen O’Connor, which ran online at the Gawker web site gives the details of the communications. What this demonstrates (apart from the fact that there are some not-too bright people in high political places) is that people feel that its okay to lie and mislead in these ads.
So, take caution. Or, better yet, find a place with a better record for safety where you can place your ads – someplace that has fewer thieves, spammers, pimps, rapists, killers and perpetrators of fraud.
References: “Married GOP Congressman Sent Sexy Pictures to Craigslist Babe,” Gawker. February 9, 2011 by Maureen O’Connor. Retrieved February 10, 2011. http://gawker.com/#!5755071/married-gop-congressman-sent-sexy-pictures-to-craigslist-babe