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17 Things You Should Never Buy on Craigslist

Anything that could have bed bugs is a big no-no.

Stories about Craigslist scams and transactions gone wrong have given the classified advertisements website something of a bad reputation. In reality, Craigslist is just like any other marketplace. So long as you're cautious and careful, you can take full advantage of the deals that the site has to offer without running into any trouble.

However, all this isn't to say you should be doing all of your shopping via the online marketplace. While the site is a great place to buy furniture, collectibles, and even used cars, it's not as reliable when it comes to buying things like makeup, event tickets, and a certain piece of all-important safety equipment. Click on to learn which items you should never buy on Craigslist.


Makeup Products {Never Buy on Craigslist}

The savings you score buying makeup on Craigslist aren't enough to justify any health risks that come with buying from an unverified source. "As with any type of professional or premium-brand beauty product, there are thousands of fakes, diluted, and expired ones floating around on third-party sites," explains skincare specialist Michelle Skelly. "I highly caution you not to risk your safety and health just to save a few bucks!"

Event Tickets

Concert Tickets {Never Buy on Craigslist}

Sure, there are plenty of honest sellers on Craigslist trying to unload a pair of concert tickets they no longer have a need for. But it's been well reported that the site is also rife with anonymous scammers, who've been known to sell fake tickets from afar. If you're shopping the secondary market for live entertainment, remember that Craigslist can be a risky place.


Mom helping her son put on a helmet.

According to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, a helmet is only good for one bad crash before the protective foam inside of it is damaged and the helmet needs to be replaced.

If you're buying secondhand on Craigslist (or secondhand from anywhere, for that matter), you have no way of telling whether the item you're looking at is still in viable condition. Since we're safety first, we recommend you always buy your helmets new.

Car Seats

Baby Car Seat in a Car {Never Buy on Craigslist}

If you're buying a used car seat, we'd only recommend you follow the advice of Debbi Baer, an expert at The Car Seat Lady. Only buy when you know the "entire history of the car seat," that it was "never in a crash," that "all parts are present and in good working order," that it's not expired, and that it hasn't been "recalled."

Given her requirements—and the fact that your child's safety is at stake—we don't recommend you just snatch up a car seat from a classified ad. (Oh, and the same goes for "new" seats. Even if the car seat is brand new and still in the box, there's no telling whether that specific model was previously recalled due to safety concerns or whether a seller is getting rid of it because there were vital pieces missing.) Remember: Better safe than sorry!

Used Shoes

A Pair of Old Shoes {Never Buy on Craigslist}

Buying lightly used shoes in new-ish condition is one thing—but spending money on sneakers or sandals that are basically missing soles is another thing entirely.

Plus, "since shoes mold to their owner's feet, a heavily used pair could cause you pain or even health problems over time," says Holly Johnson of The Simple Dollar.

Used Mattresses

Woman Testing Out a New Mattress {Never Buy on Craigslist}

On Craigslist or otherwise, you simply should never buy a used mattress. For one, you really can't tell whether a mattress is infested with creepy crawlers, like bed bugs, until it's in your house and the critters are wreaking havoc. And two, mattresses only last for so many years, meaning that any used one you buy is going to need to be replaced far sooner than a new one.

Anything "Designer"

Woman with a Louis Vuitton Bag {Never Buy on Craigslist}
andersphoto / Shutterstock

While there are plenty of secondhand sites that guarantee authenticity for their designer duds for less—such as The Real Real and Tradesy—Craigslist isn't one of them. In fact, many Craigslist shoppers have been scammed into buying counterfeit bags with no way of returning them. If you look at the site's advice about what to do when you're scammed, their only recommendations are either to report the listing or to avoid the scam in the first place.

Kitchen Knives

Kitchen Knives {Never Buy on Craigslist}

"It can be difficult to test the sharpness of knives… without using them, and you may end up with dull blades that can't be brought back to life," notes one reporter at MarketWatch. And even if the knives are sharp enough to be used, they could still be dirty, rusty, or simply not the kind that you need.

Medical Supplies

A Pair of Contact Lens

While medical equipment is admittedly expensive, it's better to buy the things you need from a verified retailer than on a site like Craigslist. Thought it's tempting to try and cut costs on such expensive machines and devices, the cons far outweigh the pros, and your best (and safest) bet is to ask your doctor for recommendations for reputable medical retailers.

Vacuum Cleaners

Man With a Vacuum Cleaner {Never Buy on Craigslist}

Fact: Most people selling their vacuums online are usually only doing so because they no longer work all that well. And seeing as you have no way to know for sure whether the vacuum you're buying is coming from a home with pets, fleas, or bed bugs, the truth of the matter is a used vacuum can actually do more dirtying than cleaning.

Non-Stick Pans

Old Rusty Pantry {Never Buy on Craigslist}

For the sake of both your safety and your cooking, you should avoid the non-stick cookware listings on Craigslist and stick with reasonably priced new pans instead.

According to USA Today site Reviewed, the non-stick coatings on these items "are famously prone to flaking off in tiny pieces—tiny pieces that end up in you and your family's food." Not only are these materials dangerous to consume, but also the more worn-out a pan becomes, the more likely your food is to stick to it.

Stuffed Animals

Stuffed animal Dorm Room

"Between bed bugs, lice, and bacteria, there are plenty of creepy crawlies out there that can easily make their way onto previously used snuggle toys," the experts at Douglas Cuddle Toys explain. It's better to buy new ones—or receive hand-me-downs from trusted family members and friends—than to buy used ones that put your child's health at risk.

Used Tires

Man Holding a Car Tire {Never Buy on Craigslist}

It's not a problem with Craigslist, per se, but a problem with buying used tires in general. "You don't know where they have been or how they've been used," notes Gene Peterson of Consumer Reports. "The tire could have been driven overloaded, under-inflated, or to excessively high speed. Any one or a combination of these factors could lead to internal damage not visible from the outside."

Ultimately, the shopping expert recommends to "buy new tires and refer to DOT codes to be sure they are not more than a couple of years old."


Baby Crib in a Baby's Room {Never Buy on Craigslist}

Like many other baby products, cribs are constantly being recalled for various safety reasons. (In 2011, for instance, the Consumer Product Safety Commission banned the sale of drop-side cribs.) If you want a 100-percent guarantee that the crib you're buying will keep your child safe, it's best to go through the proper channels to buy it.

Computer Software

italian dressed man on computer

Why shouldn't you buy computer software from Craigslist? Let's break it down. Best-case scenario, you end up with software that's already been downloaded and is therefore useless. Worst case scenario, you buy software that, when installed, unleashes malware onto your computer and destroys your hard drive. Software manufacturers like Adobe even advise against buying their products used, so do yourself a favor and just buy whatever you need directly from an authorized retailer.


Woman trying on a hat at the market.

"Head lice are very contagious and are transferred by sharing clothes, hairbrushes, combs, pillows, hair decorations, and hats with somebody who has lice," warns the Environmental Protection Agency.

If you want to guarantee a lice-free head of hair, then fork out the extra money for a brand-new beret.


Small white long haired dog portrait - Coton de Tulear - Image

There are far too many stories out there of Craigslist animal transactions gone wrong, and there is always the possibility that the dog or cat being sold has behavioral issues that could take months of professional training to sort out. Plus, there are millions of animals out there in need of a forever home. And you can benefit, too—just check out these 15 Amazing Benefits of Adopting a Pet.

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