Don't be a Victim: Craigslist and Online Marketplace Safety

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - You can find some great bargains on online marketplace sites like Craigslist—but you can also get more than you bargained for if you are not careful.

Criminals are always looking for ways to rip you off—or even worse.  We look at how to protect yourself in this week's "Don't be a Victim" report.

"Keep in mind the biggest thing about Craigslist is that it is stranger to stranger for the most part," said SCMPD Crime Prevention Officer Barry Lewis.

Police say never invite someone to your home or go into someone else's home and to meet in a public location or a place that has security cameras if possible.

"If you are going to do a transaction come to a safe place. It could be a gas station, a 24-hour diner, or even police headquarters, we encourage people you can actually come up to headquarters and do the transaction.  It's a safe spot," Lewis said.

Police also say to remember to take your cell phone with you and always bring a buddy or tell someone where you are going and how long you will be gone.

"Let people know where you are going. If you are about to do a transaction, especially a big transaction, let a friend know, let a neighbor know, let your son or daughter know. Just let them know that you are going to be out there.  Don't ever do this alone. This is a stranger to stranger thing," Lewis said.

Police say be cautious in all sales but especially when it involves high-value items. Don't carry large amounts of cash.  And don't go anywhere, such as an ATM, with the other person.

"If you are doing a transaction through Craigslist and somebody wants you to get in their car and leave and go to an ATM, that's a no go. Those are signs, what we call signs in police work that it may be more than what it is.  You may become a victim," Lewis warned.

Police also say trust your instincts.  If something feels off—leave.  And you believe you have been scammed, contact them immediately.

Copyright 2017 WTOC. All rights reserved.