4 Signs a Craigslist Apartment Listing Is a ScamApril 9th, 2010 by Staff Writer
Craigslist is one of the best places to go online to check apartment listings. Landlords don’t have to pay to list an apartment on Craigslist.com, which means you’ll have a variety of apartments listings that you won’t find in your local newspaper. Some apartments advertised are very affordable too, making it the go-to website for low income renters. It’s so popular that criminals, identity thieves, email spammers and others are exploiting apartment hunters, by listing scam apartment listings. Know the signs, and move on to another listing if you come across one.
1 - Send in Your Deposit
It’s not normal to send in a security deposit to a potential landlord, with no lease agreement. One scam on Craigslist that frequents apartment listings in major metro areas, like New York City, is the “send us your deposit to hold the apartment” request. Prospective renters don’t see the apartment first, but they’re desperate to find an apartment at low rates, that they send a security deposit anyway. The money asked for is the equivalent of one month’s rent, to make it look like the request is real. Some scammers sweeten the deal by asking for half of that. Don’t send your security deposit in to any “landlord” without first seeing the apartment, doing your research and signing a lease agreement.
2- Sight Unseen
Scammers offer to rent you an apartment sight unseen. Send in a rent check, and you’ll be in the apartment before you know it. While it’s not unsual to rent an apartment without seeing it first, especially if you’re moving from out of state, sending in your rent check ahead of time is not normal. You should also only send personal information, which includes your social security number or driver’s license number, to a management company or commercial landlord company whose credentials you can research. Don’t send rent payments in response to an apartment listing, when you cannot verify the individual receiving it on the other end.
3 - Promise to Send Keys in the Mail
A real landlord is not going to send keys to the apartment in the mail to a stranger. An apartment listing that promises to mail you apartment keys is most likely a scam. You wouldn’t send keys to your apartment to a potential roommate without first meeting them. That wouldn’t make sense to you, because of safety and other reasons. The promise to send keys is often accompanied by a request for you to wire money first. As stated before, don’t send rent or security deposits ahead of time to anyone whose identity you can’t verify.
4 - Out of State Sellers
An apartment listing with contact information that’s located outside of the state where the apartment is located is often a scam. The landlords who post apartments reside in the same city or state. If not, a signal should go off that you may be looking at a scam.
Don’t be a victim of a Craigslist apartment listing scam. Look for these signs to avoid losing money.