4 Signs a Craigslist Apartment Listing Is a Scam

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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.


One Response to “4 Signs a Craigslist Apartment Listing Is a Scam”

  1. January 10, 2012 at 4:07 pm, Kristin Ward said:

    Its not just renters that have issues with this. It can cause a great deal of trouble for landlords. I had one of my apartments used in a scam, one that was actually for rent. You can image my surprise when a guy shows up and cusses me out because he key doesn’t work in an apartment that is currently vacant.

    Its not exactly an easy situation for the landlord. Often times the rent is quite a bit lower then what it should be. Not to mention that scammers don’t exactly care who the get their money from since their not actually renting.

    The guy that showed up had bad credit when I ran his report through http://www.tenantverification.com/. Couldn’t pay the actual price of the rent. No deposit, bad credit and not enough income. What am I suppose to do? The guy is to high a risk a tenant and I depend on rent to pay my bills.

    I didn’t scam him. Nor did I fall for a scam for an apartment that is ridiculously too low for the area. And yet some how I’m the bad guy. Then of course there is the lovely chat with the cops after the guy got done screaming at me and called them. If it sounds to good to be true it probably is.


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