Savvy North Alabama Consumer Dodges Craigslist Scam

A North Alabama resident called the Better Business Bureau to report she almost fell for an overpayment scam on Craigslist. The consumer had listed a set of seats from a totaled vehicle for sale on Craigslist for $250. An interested buyer reached out offering to pay $30 less than the asking price. When the consumer spoke with the buyer next, the buyer claimed that the check had accidentally been made out for an amount much higher than the asking price since its intended recipient was a landscape company. However, the buyer added the consumer’s name and requested she cash the check, keep the $230 and send back the remaining money.

If the consumer would have accepted the check and followed the instructions of the scammer, she would have been notified weeks later that the check did not have the appropriate funds. This would result in the consumer having to pay back the original amount cashed plus overdraft fees.

Consider the following safety tips before completing your sale:

  1. Never accept overpayment for an item.
  2. Create a separate email account for online transactions. In this case, if you reply to a Craigslist posting, you won’t have to give your real email address. This will help you preserve your privacy.
  3. Before taking pictures of your item and uploading it to Craigslist, be sure to turn off the Geo Tagging feature on your smartphone. To turn this feature off on an iPhone, go to Settings>Privacy>Location Services>Camera>Off. For Android users, go to Settings and scroll down to the Geo/Location Tag option an turn it off. For previous photos taken before disabling the Geo Tagging feature you can delete it, but it’s a bit more complicated. Check out Lifewire.com, How to Remove Geotags From Pictures Taken With Your iPhone for details.
  4. Always use a cell phone when contacting a prospective buyer, to avoid giving away your physical address tied to your home phone.
  5. If you are selling large, difficult to transport items, move the item to a secure garage, patio, or your front yard. Don’t let the buyer into your home.

Source: Better Business Bureau of North Alabama and Andy O’Donnell, LifeWire.com - How to Buy and Sell Safely on Craigslist and Buy, Sell and Be Safe Online: Craigslist Safety Tips. Also check out Craigslist: Avoiding Scams and Craigslist: Personal Safety.

If you would like to report a scam, call your BBB at 256-533-1640 or go to the BBB Scam Tracker. To find trustworthy businesses, visit bbb.org.