How To Avoid Scams on Craigslist

Craigslist can be a great place to find odd jobs when you need some quick cash, but it's also a place where many scammers lurk hoping to take your hard-earned money away from you.

Let's take a look at a few common scams.

The Mystery Shopper Scam

There are real jobs available for mystery shoppers (people who pose as a customer to evaluate a business). However, there are a couple of different ways scammers try to take advantage of people looking for real jobs. The first is to sell a "training kit" with information about how to be a mystery shopper or where to find jobs. You should never have to pay to find out more information about mystery shopping jobs. That information is readily available for free.

The second part of the scam is when a company signs you up for a job that involves cashing a large check and sending them the funds through Western Union. Your bank might release the funds to start, but that money will quickly be removed from your account once the bank discovers that the check is fake. If you've already sent the money, you'll be the one paying the price for this scam.

The Car Wrap Scam

The Home Business Scam

You'll find these ads not just on craigslist, but probably also all over your Facebook feed these days. You'll be promised "unlimited earning opportunities" as a "business owner." In reality, you'll be part of a pyramid scheme and unlikely to make any real money. You'll probably be charged for a start-up kit. These companies are also referred to as Multi-Level Marketing. 99% of MLM sales representatives lose money rather than make money.

The  Postal Service Job Scam

This is advertised as a job with your local postal service. All you have to do is purchase the training materials, and then you can apply for the job. In reality, there is no purchase required to apply for a postal service job. There is a test, but the training kit being sold isn't necessarily helpful to pass the test, and there may not be an actual job vacancy in your area. You can find out about actual jobs available with the postal service at the USPS website.

The TL;DR version: Don't ever pay money to apply for a job, don't ever cash a large check as part of a job and wire the money to someone you don't know, and don't be part of a home business that's based on people at the top of the pyramid making the most money.

Craigslist has their own methods and reporting agencies, which you'll find HERE.