Things You Should Never Buy on Craigslist or eBay

car seat


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car seat

Too Good to Be True

The super low prices of shopping sites such as eBay and Craigslist can be tempting, and a lot of times there are truly great (even wacky) deals to be found. There are also things that are too cheap to seem real — and in many cases are exactly that: too good to be true. From scams and germs to downright unsafe products, there are reasons to reject some products you can find online.

Related: Vintage or Common Household Items to Sell for Extra Cash 

baby crib


There are several reasons not to buy a used crib, but the biggest reason is that new cribs are always safer. The standards are changing for the better, and buying used might mean being fatally behind. A good example of this is drop side cribs, which before 2011 were acceptable. After several resulted in infant deaths, standards were changed, but that doesn't prevent items from being sold secondhand.

Related: Practical Gifts for Parents (and New Babies) 



It's never a good idea to buy a mattress through Craigslist, because you can never know from pictures and a description how clean it actually is. Think cleaning it the minute you get it home will solve the problem? Nope. It could still harbor dust mites, bedbugs, and allergens. For sanitary reasons, you are better off buying a mattress new (and they are easy to get online.) Ick factor aside, a used mattress will likely have formed to someone else’s body and will be lumpy and uncomfortable for you.

Related: The Best IKEA Mattresses

bike helmet


Any type of helmet is likely unsafe to buy from Craigslist or eBay. Like mattresses, you can't know how clean it really is. A secondhand helmet could harbor head lice, which isn't worth saving a buck or two. As far as safety goes, you won't know the bumps and mishaps it has seen, which would make it unsafe for you to use.

Related: Best Bike Helmets Under $100

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make up


Don't buy makeup with the seal broken or makeup brushes. No matter what the seller says, you just have no way of knowing if it has been used, and there is no way to truly get a makeup brush or applicator clean. Bacteria within might lead to pinkeye or other infections. Don't risk your vision and overall wellness. 

Eugeniusz Dudzinski/istockphoto


Supplements and vitamins are something to steer clear of on eBay. The seller could have a wonderful storefront with excellent reviews, but the bottom line is that these are discounted for a reason. You have no idea how they've been handled or if they were made with substandard products. Fake brands of some supplements are often sold on eBay that  may look like a brand you recognize, but on closer inspection (after you've bought them) are revealed to be knockoffs. 

woman with oxygen mask


Anything you would ingest is probably not a good idea to buy on eBay or Craigslist. Yes, these things are allowed to be sold, but you have no way of knowing how the food item has been handled or stored, or even its source. Additionally, food items might be sold because they are about to expire, which means that you would be getting food past its prime, if not spoiled.

Related: Things to Skip at the Dollar Store

men pushing strollers

Strollers and Other Baby Gear

Just as with cribs, the standards for strollers and other baby gear improve constantly. If you aren't following recalls, you'll have no idea you're buying a stroller that shouldn't be on the market. This affects other baby gear, too. Five million inclined sleepers were once recalled due to infant deaths, but that didn't mean used sleepers weren't available secondhand.

chanel bag

Designer Brand Anything

Craigslist is a melting pot of designer duds, but how do you know what's authentic? There's no way to know for certain until you get the item, and there are plenty of reports of scams. Getting your money back isn't likely, as Craigslist has no oversight of the payment process. You are better off using a website or trading group that guarantees the authenticity of the designer brand. 

music festival tickets


Craigslist in particular is a risky place to buy entertainment tickets. The site has plenty of scammers waiting to take your money for fake ones, and there is no way to get the money back. The most you can do is report the listing. 



You can't sell pets on eBay or Craigslist, but Craigslist lets you "rehome" pets for a small fee. It's probably something to bypass. There are many stories of pets being rehomed and having behavior or health issues — something you have no way of knowing through a Craigslist ad especially if a frustrated owner is hoping to unload a pet quickly.

Related: Most Expensive Dogs, Cats, and Other Pets to Own

kid in carseat

Car Seats

Car seats are not something to buy on Craigslist, eBay, or from any secondhand vendor. If a car seat is involved in a collision in which airbags deploy, it is deemed damaged and unsafe. While a seat could appear to be in mint condition, buying secondhand means there is no way to tell for sure. There are other ways to save on car expenses that don't put your little one at risk.

vacuum cleaner

Vacuum Cleaners

You have no idea about the actual history of a vacuum cleaner, and it could be more unsettling than you think: Has it been used to clean up bedbugs, bodily functions, pet hair, or other concerning things? You also don't know how well it works until you actually bring it home and try it out. Why risk buying one from Craigslist that could do little more than add dirt (or creepy critters) to your home when you can get one for cheap? 



There's a difference between refurbished computers and used ones. Refurbished computers are used but have been inspected and are allowed to be resold by reputable dealers — used computers are more of a gamble. They could have unsavory software loaded on them or been dropped or exposed to water. Instead of buying a possibly stolen or damaged computer with little recourse to get your money back, seek out refurbished models. You'll still save money, but you'll be getting a machine that has been vetted for resale and will likely have a return policy you can review. 

stuffed animals
Stefan Malloch/istockphoto

Stuffed Animals

The potential for lice should be just one of the reasons to hesitate before buying stuffed animals from eBay or Craigslist. Bacteria, secondhand smoke, bedbugs, cockroaches, and other creepy crawlies are other "extras" that could be included in your purchase. Get stuffed animals new or from trusted friends and family.

Related: Most Dangerous Toys of All Time

man with fedora


Buying a used hat from Craigslist or eBay opens up the risk of getting head lice, which spread quickly and require the purchase of special shampoos, hair combs, and sometimes professional intervention to send packing. A hat, no matter how stylish it is, just isn't worth it. 

dress shoes on feet

Secondhand Shoes

Shoes are designed to conform to a person's foot — if they are used, they've likely already conformed to someone else's. Your cheap purchase can leave you with foot and back pain and the expensive treatments required to fix the problem.

Related: Best Cheap Walking Shoes for Women and Men