How should I get paid?
January 8, 2009 7:19 AM   Subscribe

I am selling an expensive item on Craigslist. How should I ask for payment?

I am selling an item worth several thousand dollars on craigslist. How should I ask for payment to ensure that I don't get ripped off? I will be making the transaction in person. Obviously, cash is good, but I don't want to walk around NYC with that much money on me until I can get to the bank. Certified Check? Money Order? Which of these is most reliable?
posted by soy_renfield to Shopping (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Cashier's check from a local bank. Or do cash; the odds of getting ripped off really are extremely low.
posted by Happydaz at 7:25 AM on January 8, 2009

Cash and bring some friends.
posted by bleucube at 7:30 AM on January 8, 2009 [2 favorites]

what bleucube said.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:35 AM on January 8, 2009

Don't go alone. You probably don't need a posse, but a friend wouldn't be a bad idea. If they're willing, a cashier's check is perfect. They exist for exactly this purpose.
posted by JuiceBoxHero at 7:39 AM on January 8, 2009

I would only accept a cashier's check or money order if I accompanied the buyer to the bank (or post office) and watched them obtain it. Otherwise, cash only.
posted by kitty teeth at 7:40 AM on January 8, 2009 [3 favorites]

Unless you plan on selling your TV or whatever at 10pm in the Bronx, I think you'll be fine walking around NYC for a couple hours with a couple thousand dollars cash. There are banks every friggin block.
posted by jckll at 7:49 AM on January 8, 2009

Paypal for those who have it. You'll lose paypal's fees though. Check out paypal mobile
posted by eagleapex at 7:50 AM on January 8, 2009

I ain't no fraud expert, but I've worked in various banks and check cashing facilities for a while now, and let me tell you, cashier's checks and money orders are NO SURE THING.

They are widely counterfeited, simply because people tend to trust them absolutely. If you get a genuine money order or official check, it is true that the funds will absolutely be there. But if you deposit a fraudulent check in your account, you're going to get a nasty surprise when the bank calls you up asking for thousands of dollars back plus returned check fees.

Not to make you all paranoid, but when people bring me a large cashier's check or money order to cash, the first thing I do is ask them where they got it, and if the words Ebay, Craigslist, Nigeria, or Secret Shopper come up, there's an extremely good chance that it's bogus.

If you don't want to carry cash, bring a list of verification numbers with you. Western Union, Money Gram, and local banks. DO NOT EVER CALL THE PHONE NUMBER PRINTED ON THE CHECK. If it is counterfeit, then that's the number of their buddy in Brooklyn smoking a cigarette and pretending to verify your check. The number you call should confirm that a MO/CC with your check/warrant/serial/whatever was issued in that amount.

Otherwise, you need to be with them when they purchase the negotiable instrument in question, or get cash.
posted by Juliet Banana at 7:55 AM on January 8, 2009 [14 favorites]

How about an email money transfer? Completely secure and easy.
posted by davey_darling at 7:56 AM on January 8, 2009

Not paypal. If they pay through paypal with a credit card, they can later ask their credit card company to reverse the charges, and you will be screwed. Paypal will not stick up for you. Cash, or US Postal Money order, which is a federal offense to forge. Just go get a cheap postal money order to use as a example to comapre. Bring a friend.
posted by procrastination at 7:57 AM on January 8, 2009 [2 favorites]

If you're planning on depositing the money in the bank right away, why not ask for cash and meet at your bank?
posted by frieze at 8:02 AM on January 8, 2009 [5 favorites]

E-mail money transfers only work in Canada. I wish the US banking system worked HALF as well as the Canadian one. I miss Canada. And seconding the cash thing. There are banks EVERYWHERE in NYC so you should have no trouble depositing right away. Maybe even look up a branch of your bank that's closest to the exchange spot.
posted by Grither at 8:07 AM on January 8, 2009

If the item is portable, meet near your bank, during banking hours (you don't want to have to handfeed 30 hunnies into the ATM). Then you give them the good(s) and they give you the cash.

Cash is king. Please take some pictures as you're depositing it! (see here, taken by a friend of mine)
posted by zpousman at 8:23 AM on January 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Nthing cash. We sold a computer on Craigslist recently and my husband, who handled the transaction, said there were a lot of scammer types who contacted him wanting to use money orders and cashier's checks.

Also nthing "bring someone with you".
posted by immlass at 8:47 AM on January 8, 2009

Nthing meet at the bank. I sold my car on Craiglist for $6000. I met the girl at her bank, she got in line and I saw her get the cashier's check from the teller. I took the check straight to my bank and deposited it. Everything turned out fine!
posted by peep at 8:49 AM on January 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

I sold a truck on CL a while back for $8k and took cash only. Upon receiving this cash, I just went to the bank. Unless you're cash-fanning for the ladies at 7-11, you're not going to be in any more danger of being mugged than usual.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 8:52 AM on January 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Meet at a bank, accept cash only.
posted by Nonce at 9:34 AM on January 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Meet at bank, CASH ONLY. If they won't do it, or protest too much, it's your scammer alarm.

I did real estate transactions in banks constantly, no one blinks an eye. ANd when I started doing that, then I noticed how many other similar things were going down. Used car transactions in cash in NYC is a popular thing.

I will not sell anything on CL via any other method than CASH. And bring a posse.
posted by micawber at 10:32 AM on January 8, 2009

In response to all the people scared of cashier's checks: Most cashier's checks come with lots of document security features. Embossing, holograms, heat-sensitive ink, multicolor and micro-printing...way more features than cash does, at least. Is good counterfeiting a significant scam?
posted by odinsdream at 11:55 AM on January 8, 2009

Cash, always cash. And really, it's very important to bring someone and to meet in a safe place (i.e. not a parking lot). I have a friend who was once almost robbed in a Craigslist transaction that actually turned into a mugging.

Everyone is always out screw you, everyone is a bad person, and you can never, ever trust anyone. These are the rules of Craigslist.
posted by tracert at 1:18 PM on January 8, 2009

Cash. Arrange to meet them outside (or inside) your bank.
posted by media_itoku at 3:24 PM on January 8, 2009

I would only accept a cashier's check or money order if I accompanied the buyer to the bank (or post office) and watched them obtain it. Otherwise, cash only.

That's what I do. Meet person in a public place and/or have someone strong with you. Then, go to their bank with them (don't get in their car -- sounds obvious, but...) and stand there while they get a cashier's check made out in your name.
posted by quarantine at 7:36 PM on January 8, 2009

In response to odinsdream, there is a legitimate reason for the anti-cashier's check sentiment. The following is pulled directly from the CL site for people wishing to sell items.

st louis craigslist > > create posting
Your posting will expire from the site in 30 days.

1. Most cashier's check or money orders offered to craigslist sellers are COUNTERFEIT -- cashing them can lead to financial ruin
2. Requests that you wire money abroad via Western Union or moneygram for any reason are SCAMS
3. Learn more on our scams page -- avoid scammers by dealing locally with buyers you can meet in person!

I would accept a money order from a local bank or a national bank that I recognize (US Bank, Commerce, etc.), but I would be wary of institutions with look-alike/sound-alike names (example, USBanking, Commercial Bank, etc.). I think meeting someone at their bank is a great idea. Not everyone has a bank account though, so don't be afraid to pay you on your terms.

Whatever you decide, if you ever feel uncomfortable with how it's going, you can always say no.
posted by mynameismandab at 12:27 AM on January 10, 2009

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