How to Avoid a Craigslist Rental Scam

We love Craigslist. It works because most people are trustworthy most of the time. Need to sell something? Find something? Move somewhere? Craigslist is there for you.

However, there is a dark side of Craigslist, too, thanks to a few bad apples. Here's how to identify a Craigslist rental scam and tips to avoid potential problems.


TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE
You've found a listing that sounds just a little too good to be true. You're probably right.

Tip: Read enough listings to get a sense of market rate. An apartment priced greatly above or below the market rate should be suspect. Check Rent-o-Meter to determine where a listing falls on the price spectrum.

BAIT AND SWITCH
An apartment is advertised at one price, but, when you show up, you're just a few minutes too late - it's already been rented. Conveniently, there is another building with a unit available nearby for just a little bit more ...

Tip: This scam works because you've already spent time coming to check out the first apartment and chances are you're eager to find an apartment quickly. Use your judgment about dealing with a management company or landlord that uses this tactic. Ideally, start your apartment search early so you're not pressured.

YOUR REP IS AS GOOD AS GOOGLE
Another scam is to post a rental apartment in another city and request that deposit funds be wired. Don't send checks or money wires to people you don't know. It's obvious, but, not so obvious if you're blinded by desperation or desire.

"Know that only a scammer will 'guarantee' your transaction," Craigslist warns in this NY Daily News article.

Who is really listing the apartment on Craiglist? If you can get an email address, you'll know for sure.

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