Last week I received an email from a reader with the subject line: “a Craigslist scammer has my address – should I be worried?” and wanted to share my response with you.
The reader unknowingly gave their address to a Craigslist scammer and is now worried about what might happen with their personal information.
If a Craigslist scammer has your address, it might not be as bad as it seems. Keep reading to find out more…
Will They Show Up at Your House?
Most scammers are hiding in foreign countries or in their parents basements in the middle of nowhere. It is very unlikely that they even live in your state.
Thanks to technology, they can pretend to live near you even though they are on the other side of the world. Most Craigslist scammers have no desire to stop by your house or even be seen in public.
The less people know about them, the less likely they will get caught.
Just take a look at this screenshot from the White Pages website:
In a simple search by name, I can find a person’s age, phone number, address, previous locations and names of their family members. You can also see the contact information of their family members as well.
It can be a little scary when you search for your own name on sites like these and discover just how much information about you is public. But don’t get paranoid.
Giving away your address does not give the scammer any advantage over you.
What Are the Scammers Trying To Do?
According to Craigslist, the most common scams involve some sort of check fraud.
For example, if you are selling an item on Craigslist, a scammer will offer to send you a check with overnight delivery before even viewing your item.
The check you receive will always be for much more than your originally agreed upon price. This is when the scam starts.
Next, they will send you an urgent email saying they made a mistake and will ask you to wire them the difference between the asking price and the check amount.
Sadly, these checks are usually fake and will not clear your bank. Any money you send to them will be gone for good.
If you receive a check from someone you’ve been in contact with on Craigslist, do not cash the check if you are suspicious. You should always deal in cash when possible.
Will You Get Junk Mail?
If you are worried about getting junk mail from scammers, I suggest adding your address to the “do not mail list” at optoutprescreen.com.
This is also a great idea if you frequently receive prescreened credit card or insurance offers in the mail and want them to stop.
I did this a few years ago and was grateful when the junk mail stopped filling up my mailbox.
The opt out process is good for 5 years and will dramatically reduce the amount of junk mail you receive.
If a Craigslist scammer has my address I might be annoyed, but I won’t be worried. As I pointed out, most of your information is publicly available for free on sites like whitepages.com or peoplefinder.com.
In the event you do receive a package or check from a scammer, proceed with caution. If you cash a fraudulent check, you could be the one that gets in trouble, not the scammer.
Always deal in cash when possible, and do not send money via Western Union to people you do not know.
Do you have any experience with Craigslist scams? Leave us a comment below and share your story with our community. You could help prevent others from getting scammed as well.