Craigslist, the online classified ad website, does not perform or promote illegal or inappropriate activities. However, the people who use it are not always bound by such moral or legal restrictions. Although the site itself is safe, unsavory characters may lurk within the posted ads.
Websites that require personal information entered into online forms typically have a Secure Sockets Layer certificate. SSL certificates encrypt your information, keeping it safe, private and secure. Craigslist has an SSL certificate, as evidenced the by the "https://" designation in the address bar on the account login page, and a little padlock icon located on your browser. Accounts on Craigslist are optional, however, meaning anyone can post or reply to an ad without having to provide sign-in information that might be encrypted. No monetary transactions between buyer and seller are conducted through the site, so your financial information is never at risk when you are purchasing an item or service.
Proceed With Caution
Anyone can upload an ad on Craigslist, even those with less-than-honorable intentions. Although all scammers try to separate you from your money, most scams follow a few common themes. Some instruct you to wire money through Western Union or Money Gram, after which they promise to ship the product. Others offer to buy your item with a cashier's check or money order, which turns out to be fake. Still others claim to be out of the country and seek to enlist your help to deposit money, requiring your personal and sometimes financial information for the non-existent funds. The two most basic rules to follow when dealing with Craigslist buyers or sellers are to deal locally and listen to your gut. Always take a friend with you to meet your buyer or seller in a public place, and if something about a deal makes you uncomfortable, walk away.