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How To Sell Your Car On Craigslist Without Getting Scammed

With over 60 million individuals using Craigslist each month, there are a variety of scams to which you could fall prey.

This can range from intricate criminal schemes to basic occurrences such as a prospective buyer ghosting you and failing to show up to buy what you’re selling.

You must use extreme caution while selling an automobile on Craigslist. Unlike selling an old bicycle or other household items, this may be a substantial cash transaction.

You want to keep yourself and your vehicle safe from anyone who may try to take advantage of you.

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Check out the 21 Legit Sites Like Craigslist To Buy And Sell Used Items In 2023

Tips on How to Sell a Car on Craigslist Without Getting Scammed

You should not put your safety at risk to sell your car on Craigslist. Here are a few strategies to help safeguard you.

1. Maintaining the safety of you and your vehicle

Allowing strangers to test drive your car may make you feel uneasy. What if you let them drive off alone, and they don’t return your car?

Who, on the other hand, wants to get into a car with a stranger?

When you’re meeting someone for a test drive, there are a few things you can do to safeguard yourself and your vehicle.

Invite a friend: Avoid meeting someone for a test drive by yourself, especially if you intend to accompany them.

Read also: How Does Craigslist Make Money Much | 2023 Full Details

2. Safeguarding your wallet

Limit your interactions with local purchasers who you can meet in person, as Craigslist suggests. Run the other way if someone from another state tries to wire money to you. You may be dealing with a con artist.

When selling a car on Craigslist, what is the safest method of payment?

Sadly, some buyers have malicious intentions, and you may become a victim of a con. As a result, you’ll want to make sure you’re accepting a payment option that keeps you and your wallet safe even after you’ve said goodbye to your car. 

1. Payments in Cash

When it comes to selling an automobile, the adage “cash is king!” has never been more appropriate. Accepting cash for your car is, in general, the safest way to ensure that you receive the entire, precise payment.

But keep in mind that accepting cash from a buyer will leave you with hundreds or perhaps thousands of dollars in your wallet, and you’ll need to get to the bank as soon as possible.

Walking about with so much cash in your pocket can be dangerous! To be extra cautious, meet the buyer in a bank so you can immediately deposit the funds into your account.

Check out How to Sell Furniture on Craigslist Fast in 2023 | Expert Guide

What is the Safest Way to Receive or send Money without getting Scammed on Craigslist?

1.) Learn more about Craigslist and the services it offers:

If you have a basic knowledge of Craigslist, you can avoid a lot of scams. Before using Craigslist, take the time to understand the following:

• Craigslist’s website address is (link is external).

• Scammers routinely use fake websites to dupe customers into paying for things that do not exist.

• Double-check the URL before completing a purchase.

• Any transaction on Craigslist is not backed by Craigslist. You’re dealing with a scam if you get an email or offering to sell you buy protection.

• A Craigslist voicemail service does not exist. You’re dealing with a scammer if someone requests access to or ask to check “Craigslist voicemails.”

2.) Work with others in your Neighborhood:

Although the “barely used” couch for sale a few states over may be less expensive than the one for sale a 10-minute drive away, dealing with locals on Craigslist is usually safer. You’ll avoid 99 percent of Craigslist frauds if you follow this rule, according to the site’s guidance on preventing scams on their marketplace.

You’ll be able to complete the sale in person if you keep the transaction local. There’s also less of a danger that a language barrier may muddle the deal’s terms.

3.) Before making purchases, take a look at the product(s):

To get a thorough understanding of what you’re buying, never depend solely on pictures. Request to see the item in person.

If you’re buying an electrical item or something else that needs to work to be useful, make sure you get a chance to test it out.

4.) Do not accept or send payment as a cashier’s check, certified check, or money order:

Check fraud can be difficult to combat. Also, because a bogus check may appear to clear on the surface, you may agree to the transaction and utilize the funds that are apparently in your account.

However, you’ll discover the check has bounced a few days later. 

By then, the customer has fled with your items, leaving you to cover the dollars you spent while hoping it cleared.

On the other hand, if you pay for something with a money order or a wire transfer, you won’t be able to get your money back if the seller doesn’t deliver the products.

See also: How To Sell A House By Owner | 2023

5.) Securely Use Cash:

Cold cash is the safest way to pay or collect payments for a Craigslist transaction.

If the thought of giving over a big quantity of money to a stranger makes you nervous, you can exchange money and products at a secure location such as your local police station or the bank.

Bring a counterfeit detecting pen (available at most office supply stores and online) while collecting cash for a sale to ensure you’re not being duped by fake bills.

These may be purchased for as little as $5, but they can save you a lot of money.

6.) Never give a buyer or seller your personal information:

Always keep your information private when using the internet.

Your bank account number, birth date, or even your mother’s maiden name are irrelevant to a buyer or seller. Back out of a trade if contact is asking too many inquiries.

7.) Be cautious of Bogus Escrow Service Websites:

When buying and selling products online, escrow services, in which a corporation keeps a substantial sum of money for two parties in the middle of a transaction, can be extremely useful.

They can, however, be a deceptive trap for unwitting victims. Scammers frequently set up phony escrow service websites to trick victims into handing over their money.

The site will be a rip-off of a legitimate escrow service website, with a few minor differences that you wouldn’t notice unless you were looking for them.

Instead of following a pop-up ad or a link, it’s advisable to find an escrow service site on your own. Make sure the site is free of spelling errors and grammatical errors. Also, double-check that the URL is safe and corresponds to the service’s website.

8.) Make a one-time-use number:

While doing business on Craigslist, you may also need to share a working phone number. Instead of handing out your real phone number, you can create a free, disposable number via Google Voice (link is external).

Your Google Voice number will become untraceable after 30 days of inactivity and will expire.

See also: How to Easily Sell Cars in need For Speed Heat. 

When Selling a Car on Craigslist, What Should I Keep in Mind?

1. The buyer’s behavior:

The deal will go easily if your buyer is genuine — and reasonable. Without access to FBI databases, how can you check on a potential buyer?

Talk to the buyer on the phone first.

Many scammers use phony email accounts to obscure their identities and provide no information about their whereabouts.

Demand that customers provide you their phone numbers and set up a time to talk; the con artists will swiftly vanish.

It’s common to exchange text messages about buying a secondhand automobile these days but insist on a quick phone call.

Pay heed to your gut instincts while you speak with the potential buyer. Wait for another buyer if the buyer makes any weird requests or if anything makes you uneasy.

2. Follow the money:

Almost every online fraud starts with a strange funding request from the customer. The bogus bidder writes you a check for an additional sum to transport the car, according to a common scam. You pay for shipment, get the car delivered, and then your check bounces.

Before arranging to meet, make it clear to the potential buyer that you only accept cash. If the buyer insists on payment with a cashier’s check, meet at the bank and see how the payment request is handled by a cashier.

3. Don’t get too excited:

Many scams succeed because of “the victim’s own eagerness to close a deal they think is sweet.”

So keep in mind that genuine purchasers will have inquiries about the vehicle and will most likely want to haggle.

If you’re selling your automobile to someone from out of town, you might expect them to hire a mobile service to inspect it.

4. Gather in a “safe zone.”

Police departments are setting up “safe zones” with video surveillance since so many individuals are arranging actual meetings after interacting over the internet.

These are excellent locations for meeting potential buyers. It is preferable if the vendor selects the meeting location.

“By insisting on ground rules like that, you can remove a lot of uncertainties out of the equation. If you feel insecure and aren’t an automobile expert, bring a friend who is.”

If there isn’t a safe zone nearby, meet in a well-lit public space with plenty of people. If you have any doubts, request to see the buyer’s driver’s license before allowing him or her to drive your automobile.

5. Avoid purchasers that have a lot of stories to tell:

Many con jobs start with a need for assistance or an unusual request, such as shipping a car out of the country.

Scammers had also pretended to be members of the military to garner sympathy and thoughts of patriotism.

Such requests should be avoided at all costs. Slow down, ask questions, and avoid becoming emotionally attached to the transaction.

Check this out: 30 Places To Sell Used Furniture For Cash In 2023 | Online & Offline

On Craigslist, What is the Quickest Way to Sell a Car?

Craigslist is known for its colorful diversity of advertising, which ranges from hot plates to hot dates.

It is a common choice for quick purchasing and selling, not least of which are autos, due to its free and instant style. Here are some tips to help you sell your car quickly.

Include photographs: 

Whether you include photos or not, posting to Craigslist is free. Potential buyers can and frequently do ignore ads without photographs.

Include a few with the ad and be prepared to offer more to anyone interested.

In the headline, include the year, make, model, and mileage:

Craigslist is a sea of links, so including that crucial information not only makes your post look more thorough, but it also makes it easier for buyers to find.

Describe the vehicle:

Include the year, make, and model of the vehicle in the text as well. Go over the important information, such as the odometer reading, engine size, main options, and transmission.

In the latter case, some buyers will ignore you unless you specify whether they want a manual or automatic transmission. Finally, ensure that everything is correctly spelled.

If you promote an “Infinity,” those who put “Infiniti” into the search box will never notice you.

The life tale can be skipped:

There is a reason why someone sells an automobile. It doesn’t mean that all of the drama has to be revealed. Buyers are discouraged from contacting merchants because of such rambling.

Instead, summarize recent maintenance or repairs in your own words. Say anything if the car need or will require attention.

It’s the correct thing to do, and Craigslist customers are used car buyers who understand that most private parties used automobiles aren’t in showroom condition.

Multiple contacts should be included:

At the very least, you can use the built-in feature to get anonymous email answers to your ad. That will be irrelevant as soon as you respond to an email.

Include various ways for purchasers to contact you, such as email, text, and phone—if you need to, sign up for a concealing Google Voice number.

Check your spam folder frequently for messages from legitimate parties that have been misdirected. Respond to inquiries as they come in, or as quickly as feasible.

Buyers look at many adverts, so keep that in mind. Don’t let their money go to waste.

Keywords should be included:

If your car has a named feature, don’t ignore it or call it something generic. Rather than just saying it’s an all-wheel-drive Mercedes, say “4MATIC.”

Say something if the thing has a HEMI. These are the types of keywords that draw attention to your post, especially when people search for those terms.

Set a Reasonable Price:

When you use Craigslist to sell your automobile quickly, you’ll almost certainly not get top dollar. The quick turnaround comes at a cost.

Consider an even more appealing price here, just as you are encouraged to conduct your homework before selling your car through other means.

When determining the bar, keep in mind the pricing of other cars similar to yours.

Don’t be unreasonable:

Before you even finish reading a Craigslist ad, you’ve undoubtedly seen the ones that refuse to negotiate or otherwise discourage interaction.

Setting a fixed price and contact guidelines may result in the loss of a few potential purchasers, but it isn’t all terrible.

You can’t blame yourself if you don’t want lowball offers made after midnight. Simply explain so in a way that does not alienate rational folks with cash on hand.

See also: How To Get Free Gift Cards Online Without Completing Offers In 2023

How to Sell a Car on Craiglist Without Getting Scammed

Even if it appears that everyone on Craigslist is trying to get you, this isn’t always the case. However, you must exercise caution.

To avoid major losses later, you must initially safeguard yourself. If you pay attention, you can escape some scams more easily than others.

All you can do at times is trust your instincts and hope for the best. When it comes to ghosting, for example, the only thing you can do is build a rapport with someone to determine whether they are interested and trustworthy before agreeing to meet with them.

If you don’t want to be ghosted by a buyer, send them a few texts first to get to know them. If they aren’t interested in talking much, you might be in danger.

Reduce the amount of time you spend on it by having them come to you instead of the other way around.

To achieve this, below are some steps or guidelines to follow:

Prepare for the worst while hoping for the best:

Living your life as if everyone is out to swindle you may sound pessimistic, but on Craigslist, this is typically the best way to approach any deal.

Approach any conversation with the assumption that the individual contacting you about your car is attempting to defraud you. This will keep you alert and on the lookout for anything unusual.

Look for warning signs:

A lot of con artists are slackers. They’ll have to con a lot of people before they locate one who will bite. That means they aim to save money whenever possible.

Many scammers would mass-send cut-and-paste communications in the hopes that someone will fall for it. Look for messages that don’t make any sense in terms of the ad they responded to.

Keep an eye out for grammatical and syntactical problems as well.

A lot of Craigslist scams have come from outside the United States. Their communications may have gone through a translation program, which might make them confused and garbled.

Request a phone number:

If you have a genuine buyer, they should have no qualms about speaking with you openly.

Feel free to use Craigslist messaging if you’re only selling some old Coke bottles. For an automobile, though, you should first hear a real human voice on the phone.

If a buyer refuses to provide you with a phone number, or if they only want to call you and the number appears to be private or blocked, that’s also a big red flag.

If you do acquire a phone number, look up the area code to figure out where they’re calling from.

Ask some key questions:

This relates to the previous section’s discussion of cut-and-paste messages.

You might be dealing with someone who is simply cutting and pasting their share of a conversation if you ask a few inquiries and don’t get a straight answer.

Understand how to get paid:

Cash is king on Craigslist for big-ticket commodities like cars. Insist on being paid in cash over any other method.

It’s simply not worth the risk if a buyer wants to pay you by wire transfer or a personal cheque.

There could be valid reasons why a buyer is unable to pay you in cash at the moment. If this is the case, you must use extreme caution.

First, get a sense of the individual to determine if you think you can trust them. Even if you’re willing to take a chance, you should avoid checks and wire transfers at all costs.

Consider using a different payment method, such as a bank draft, which provides some assurance that the money is genuine.


Scammers frequently seek sellers who appear to be naive or uninformed about what they have.

Make sure your ad is well-written, clear, and succinct, and that it has all of the technical information that a potential buyer would require. Also, include clear photographs.

The more respectable your ad appears, the more serious consumers you’ll attract.

If you simply post something like “vehicle for sale, runs good,” more scammers will flock to it, but legitimate purchasers will ignore it because it provides little information about what you have.

In-person meeting:

This is an excellent rule of thumb to follow when meeting someone online. Meet them in person, in broad daylight, and public.

When you do this, you should always bring a companion with you. Agree to meet at a Starbucks or, better yet, in a bank where the financial transaction may be completed.

If your car is being sold for a substantial sum of money, the bank is a suitable place to meet.

If paying in cash isn’t an option, you can accompany the buyer to the bank and watch them acquire a certified check in front of you, which you can inspect to ensure it’s genuine.

Trust your instincts:

At the end of the day, there is no foolproof method for detecting a con artist. You’ll have to trust your instincts and proceed with what seems correct.

Simply be aware that the possibility of being scammed exists, and be on the lookout for signals that anything unusual is occurring.

FAQs- How to Sell a Car on Craigslist Without Getting Scammed

Is it true that I’m still responsible for an automobile after I sell it?

The majority of states consider used automobile transactions to be “as is.” This indicates that the customer understands that if something goes wrong after the car has been driven away, he or she is solely responsible. That implies you’re not accountable for the car when it’s sold as a seller.

When selling an automobile privately, what paperwork is required?

First, both parties should fill out and sign a Bill of Sale that includes the VIN, agreed-upon purchase price, odometer reading, and buyer and seller’s names and addresses. Following then, the buyer must take care of the payment.

What can a con artist do with a vehicle identification number (VIN)?

Because the VIN is right there in the windshield, anyone may walk past your car and copy it down. They can apply for duplicate papers after they’ve cloned your VIN, and those papers can be used on another automobile that has been stolen or recreated.

Is Craigslist a safe place to sell a car?

“Yes,” is the straightforward answer. You may sell your used car on Craigslist with confidence. Private buyers and sellers, as well as dealers, frequent the website. You must, however, proceed with caution. Many people are hesitant to sell or purchase autos on Craigslist.

Is it possible to be scammed while selling a car?

While this isn’t always the case, paying the seller with a bogus check or money order is a popular scam. If you sign the title over before the money has cleared, the car is no longer yours, and you’ve effectively given it away for free.


Many people have had a great experience selling their cars on Craigslist with no issues.

It’s not necessary to be worried that something horrible will occur; only be alert that something bad may occur.

If the situation becomes too stressful for you, remember that you are under no obligation to do anything that does not make you feel good.


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