Craigslist Rental Scams: Red Flags and How to Avoid Them
Are you searching for the perfect place to live but worried about encountering a Craigslist rental scam? While Craigslist is a great local resource when you’re looking for somewhere to live, it can also be filled with scammers.
Craigslist rental scams might include fake listings which seek access to your personal information, money, or more. Be safe and follow these steps to avoid being scammed online!
What Are Craigslist Rental Scams?
There are a variety of Craigslist rental scams. Some scams include illegal subleases, perpetuated by current renters who want to move and offer you an attractive deal. Others use cloned listings, which duplicate real posts at a better price. Some posts exist only to trick you into giving them your data.
Other scammers will offer you a list of rental properties for a small fee. Unfortunately, you will find the listings expired, fake, or irrelevant. Lastly, some scammers will ask for your email address and then send you a false document (“rental application”, “credit check application”), which will download malware to your computer or device.
Signs and Red Flags of Craigslist Rental Scams
If It Looks Too Good to Be True, It Probably Is
If a property is more beautiful than you ever dreamed, all for a reasonable price, it’s almost guaranteed to be a scam.
It is priced way less than similar properties. Beautiful property at half or a third of the average asking price for similar properties is a scam.
Contact Information or Language Is Unusual
Overseas scammers want your data (SSN, driver’s license number, address, birthdate, full name) for identity theft or to sell on the dark web. If the language they write with sound unusual, it might be a scam. Also, beware of emails from strange website domains or overseas phone numbers.
- Example: @126879domainytuyuy.ru or +55 555 55555
Advance Credit Check
If you haven’t seen or toured the inside of the property, but they want to do a credit check, this is likely an identity theft scam. Real rental properties will be available for tour and not require your personal information in advance. Fake posts will also reassure you that bad credit, evictions, and bankruptcies do not matter.
If the post doesn’t list the address of the property or if the address appears unusual for the community, it might be a scam.
The Owner or Realtor Can’t Show You the Property
Scammers will claim they are on holiday and give you an address, suggesting you “drive-by” the rental. In reality, you have driven past a different property owned by someone else. The scammers goal? To trick you into sending them a rental deposit or your personal information.
If someone claims they can sublease their unit or property to you, but won’t give you the owner’s information, do not rent from them as it is illegal and could leave you homeless once the owner finds out.
If someone you’re trying to rent a unit or property from uses these words, it is almost definitely a scam: MoneyGram, Western Union, cash, wire transfer, gift card, prepaid Visa, etc. However, if you’ve toured the property than a bank issued check would be appropriate to pay your deposit or rent with.
How to Prevent Falling for Craigslist Rental Scams
To prevent falling for Craigslist rental scams, it’s key to check any information you have been given:
- Go to SocialCatfish.com.
- Enter the information you currently have. This can include an image of the property, the poster’s phone number, or email address, etc.
- Review the results you receive. If the same picture is being used in multiple listings across the country or state, it is a scam! If the home is owned by someone else and a renter is trying to sublease to you against their lease illegally, it’s a scam!
- Keep private information off limits. Never answer an email asking for your social security number or other personal details, before you view the property or verify the agent or homeowner is legit.
- Do not wire money to anyone for a rental unit. Regardless of the excuses, you’re given as to why you should pay unusually, don’t do it!
Although you might feel tempted to take a chance on a great looking rental, it is not worth your identity being stolen. Never provide personal information to anyone who isn’t a realtor, or who you haven’t met in person and toured the inside of the property with. Finding somewhere to live is time-consuming enough without being scammed online.
Don’t make plans to move into the perfect rental, only to discover it doesn’t exist! Fact check anyone who emails you by searching their name, email, phone number, username, or reverse image search the property or rental listed! Social Catfish can give you the answers you’re looking for!