How to Report Craigslist Scams and Protect Your Money

Craigslist scams are more common than we'd like, but there are steps to take to help keep yourself (and others) safe.


Bridget Clerkin
Updated 26 April 2021
How to Report Craigslist Scams and Protect Your Money
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United States Scam & Fraud Statistics 2020


$3.3 billion total fraud losses
4.7 million fraud reports

1.4 million reports of identity theft

Source: 2019-20 Consumer Sentinel Report

Sections on this page
  1. How to Report Craigslist Scams to Craigslist
  2. Why Report Craigslist Scams?
  3. Where Else Should You Report Craigslist Scams?
  4. What Happens After You Report Craigslist Scams?
  5. Frequently Asked Questions

The rise of online marketplaces like Craigslist has been an excellent advancement for bargain hunters and bored internet browsers alike, but for every great buy you can find online, there’s plenty more “deals” being set up by scammers. It's crucial to report Craigslist scams to keep yourself and others safe. 

We might be living in a modern world, but there’s one adage that’s never felt truer: Let the buyer beware.

How to Report Craigslist Scams to Craigslist

There are several different types of Craigslist scams that seem to be particularly pervasive, including Craigslist rental scams, several scams involving cars, and buying fake tickets or fake designer merchandise.

In all cases, the best offense is a good defense, and looking out for signs of these scams may help you avoid partaking in them in the future.

But after you’ve encountered a scam on Craigslist, you do still have some recourse at the site. The best ways to report Craigslist scams are to:

  • Flag the post
  • Flag any emails
  • Contact Craigslist directly
  • Offer additional feedback

Flag the Post on Craigslist

The first and easiest way to report a Craigslist scam is by flagging the post you find suspicious.

You can do this by clicking on the “flag” icon found at the top of every listing page. That’s it! The simple action will automatically inform the team at Craigslist that a potential issue has been spotted.

Flag an Email

If you receive an email from a potential Craigslist scammer, you can report this action as well.

There should be a link at the bottom of the email under the heading “Please flag unwanted messages (spam, scam, other):.” The link should start with http://craigslist.org and proceed with a long string of numbers and letters.

Click on the link, and it will send the site a report about the email.

Contact Craigslist Directly

If you want to send a more detailed message to the site, you can report a Craigslist scam directly using the website’s contact form. The form will ask you for specific post IDs and a description of the problem.

Give the site a brief history of the transaction and why you believe it’s a scam. Make sure to give the site as much relevant information as possible, including:

  • Any keywords used by the listing
  • The city where the posting appeared
  • The category it was filed under

Offer Additional Feedback

Buying a lousy product isn’t the only type of Craigslist scam. If you’re encountering other issues stemming from the site, including being spammed or harassed, receiving suspicious emails or phone calls, or finding otherwise prohibited posts, you can use the same intake form to alert the site.

Why Report Craigslist Scams?

Unfortunately, if you’ve already been scammed, the act of reporting a scam on Craigslist doesn’t do too much to help you, though it will help other people using the site.

Flagging a post or email will raise an issue with Craigslist about that particular listing or poster. If the team finds a scam or enough people flag a specific post, they will remove the listing. Otherwise, Craigslist doesn’t officially back any transactions on its site. There’s no such thing as “Craigslist protection” or a “Craigslist guarantee.”

But you may be able to pursue other avenues to deal with the fallout of a Craigslist scam.

A common scam on Craigslist is the promise of a "Craigslist guarantee." If someone selling you an item is trying to convince you your transaction is protected by Craigslist somehow, they are scamming you.

Where Else Should You Report Craigslist Scams?

There are some other agencies you may want to report a Craigslist scam to.

Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IC3)

Established in 2000, this cybersecurity center helps people report crimes directly to the FBI.

The agency handles fraud cases, including online extortion, international money laundering, and identity theft. It encourages anyone who has been the victim of an internet crime to file a report.

To file a claim with the IC3, you’ll have to offer information including your name and contact information, the name and contact information of the scammer, and any financial transaction information you may have regarding the issue.

Federal Trade Commission

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has an entire department dedicated to fraud.

You can file a claim with the government agency about all manner of common online marketplace scams, including never receiving a product you paid for or never receiving a refund.

Again, the agency provides an intake form for you to fill out with more details.

International Customer Protection and Enforcement Network

The ICPEN works in partnership with over 40 consumer protection agencies worldwide.

You can file a claim with the agency if you’ve encountered online scams, including those involving your debit and credit cards.

Better Business Bureau (BBB)

Long in the business of keeping businesses honest, the BBB offers an intake form for reporting all sorts of scams, including Craigslist scams.

You'll need to provide as much information on the scammer and scam as possible.

What Happens After You Report Craigslist Scams?


Reporting a Craigslist scam, either directly to Craigslist or any of these other agencies, is a solid first step. It will launch an investigation into the situation and may follow up with you to gain more information.

But, most of the time, these investigations work more toward taking down the scammer than making you whole after a scam.

The lack of a “Craigslist guarantee” makes it exceedingly difficult to get your money or item back. Still, there are a few more proactive actions you can take to try to help yourself out.

If You Lost A Lot of Money

If the transaction in question involved a big-ticket item, such as a car, you should file a report with your local police. The agency might be more well-suited to investigate your side of the matter, as opposed to simply pursuing the scammer.

Be prepared to show them as much information as possible, including screenshots of any suspicious conversations you may have had with the scammer and proof of financial transactions.

If It Involved Your Bank

The lack of a “Craigslist guarantee” doesn’t just go for the website. It applies to any other entity that may be involved in any part of your transaction.

Unfortunately, this is also true of your bank.

If you went through the establishment to withdraw funds for a fraudulent item or attempted to deposit fraudulent funds, such as a bad cashier’s check, you might be able to file a complaint at your local branch.

Again, there’s not much the establishment can—or is even obligated—to do, so persistence will be key if you’re looking for any results. Even then, you still may not see any.

If you were the one who sent out a check, it might be possible to cancel it, as long as the scammer hasn’t yet deposited the money. You’ll have to visit your local banking branch and act as quickly as possible.

If It Involved PayPal or Other Apps

If PayPal was involved in your Craigslist scam transaction, ask the site to put a hold on transferring any funds, or try to get your money back, if the scammer hasn’t yet deposited your money. And if you used other payment apps like Venmo, you may have a very brief window to cancel a payment—again, as long as the scammer hasn’t yet deposited your money.

Don’t expect any results, however. These companies are not set up nor obligated to deal with these matters. It will take a lot of talking to customer service representatives and potentially higher-ranked people at PayPal to get anything done.

Again, if you’re considering buying something on Craigslist and even have the slightest clue of a scam, your best bet is to stay away from the deal altogether. And remember, let the buyer beware.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I report a scam on Craigslist?

You can report scams directly to Craigslist, the Better Business Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission, and more. You can also flag scam posts by simply clicking the flag button on the post itself.

Can you report Craigslist scams to the police?

Yes, you can report scams to your local police. You should also report scams to Craigslist and other agencies.

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