Renting a home is a very stressful process. You have to find the right house, in the right neighborhood, at the right price before someone else snatches the home right out from under you.
And the scammers know this, and frequent Craigslist to take advantage of you. Finding the perfect home at the perfect price is tough, and our defenses are down when we get the emotional rush of the perfect home at a great price.
This is what the Craigslist scammers are counting on.
So if you have found this article odds are you got that horrible feeling in the pit of your stomach that your deal might be too good to believe. Read the rest to be an educated and aware consumer, and not a statistic.
Five Ways To Avoid A Craigslist Rental Scam
Do Not Rent The Home Until You Have Met The Person Renting It and Have Previewed the Property
One of the most popular scams on Craigslist is by claiming to be the homeowner on a mission trip and needing to rent the house. Overseas thieves love this as it combines the trusting nature of the rentee and the impression the renter is a good and honest person who can not come to meet you at the house. It lowers your resistance to the scam.
Always ask to meet someone at the house so you can tour it. The scammers look for homes for sale and are empty, and then create rental ads to lure you in.
Check And Make Sure The Price Is Right For The Market
Remember Mama saying, “if it is too good to be true, it is?” Well, if you find a 3 bedroom house that looks great and is super cheap on Craigslist, odds are you are getting taken for a ride. It may truly be a great deal, but odds are it is using the low price to get you to lower your guard.
Do Not Use Western Union or Wire The Money (or share your bank information)
Another logical move. If the person renting their house wants you to wire them the money or even send a check, DON’T!!! This is the most prevelant part of the scam, and the easiest to avoid.
Check The Local Tax Records For Ownership
If they say they are John and Sally Smith, go online to the local county tax office and make sure that the house is in their name. Typically the scammers use fictitious persona’s over and over, as it is easier to manage from their side, so make sure that the person you are talking to owns the home.
Check To See If The Home Not For Sale
As I mentioned above, the scammers find homes newly listed for sale and then place the fake for rent ads. Check Zillow, Trulia, or Realtor.com to see if the home not for sale, and if it is contact the real estate agent to find out if it is also for rent. The agent will be thankful for your call either way.
BONUS TIP – Use Your Intuition
If the person renting the home for a too cheap a price only via email or will not give you a phone number they will answer, the odds are they are trying to rip you off. Don’t let that funny feeling in your stomach go unnoticed.
We have heard hundreds of stories from folks who have been ripped off by these Craigslist Scams since we first started writing about them in 2009. Save your family the pain and anguish by following these simple steps when renting a home you found on Craigslist.
Share With Us:
If you want to share how someone tried to scam you, let us know in the comments. Together we can help stop these evil people praying on others.