There seems to be an increasing number of reports of rental scammers on Craigslist and other advertising venues. Certain red flags might cause any of us to be wary, but many scammers are not so obvious.
Here are some tips on how to watch out for rental scams on Craigslist ads or other rental ads:
- Be wary of listings that are asking a very low rental price, way below market standard. This is a common tactic used by scammers to lure in victims.
- Do your research on the landlord. Check to see if they have a website or online presence. You can also try searching for their name online to see if there are any complaints against them.
- Be suspicious of landlords who ask you to pay rent in advance, especially if they are asking for a large amount of money. Legitimate landlords will typically only ask for a security deposit and first month’s rent upfront.
- Never give out your personal information to a landlord before you have met them in person and seen the property. This includes your Social Security number, bank account number, and credit card number.
- Meet the landlord in person to view the property before you sign any lease agreements. Be sure to bring a friend or family member with you.
- Pay attention to red flags, such as a landlord who seems rushed or who is unwilling to answer your questions. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
Here are some additional tips to help you avoid rental scams:
- Never wire money to a landlord. This is a common payment method used by scammers because it is difficult to track down the money once it has been wired.
- Be wary of landlords who ask you to pay rent through a third-party service, such as Western Union or MoneyGram. These services are typically used for money transfers between friends and family members, not for paying rent.
- Never sign a lease agreement without reading it carefully first. Make sure you understand all of the terms and conditions before you sign.
- If you suspect that you may be the victim of a rental scam, report it to Craigslist and the authorities.
It is also important to note that Craigslist and other advertisers are not rental agencies. They do not screen landlords or verify the legitimacy of listings. It is up to you to do your own research and take precautions to protect yourself from rental scams.