Have you come across a Craigslist rental scam lately? Here are my tips to avoid Craigslist scams so that you can stay safe.
Over the past few weeks, we have been searching for the perfect rental home for us to move into, but sadly we have come across many Craigslist rental scams. We found many great homes, and actually signed a lease the other day on one (more information on that to come soon).
Even though we found a rental home, we came across many Craigslist scams and Craigslist rental scams firsthand. It led to us wondering “How do I avoid Craigslist rental scams?”
I only received around 10 emails back from potential landlords and three of those I knew were definitely scammers. There might have been others as well.
Due to this, I knew I had to create a post on the topic of rental scams.
You can find rental scams everywhere (Craigslist, Zillow, and more), and many people are duped every single day out of hundreds or sometimes thousands of dollars.
P.S. If you are looking for a rental, your credit score can be extremely important. You can check your credit score with Credit Sesame for free here.
Interesting articles on Making Sense of Cents that you may want to read:
- 75+ Ways To Make Extra Money
- How To Live On One Income
- How I Paid Off $40,000 In Student Loan Debt in 7 Months
- 8 Things To Sell To Make Money
- 30 Ways To Save Money Each Month
Below are several Craigslist rental scams that you should be aware of.
There are cases where the person might not actually be a scammer, but you should be on high alert if you decide to continue through with a potential rental that you are unsure about.
Hopefully with my advice on renting on Craigslist tips below, you’ll be able to find a REAL rental.
Some scams that you may come across include:
- Craigslist rental scams
- Craigslist apartment scams
- Craigslist housing scams
- Rent31 scam
- Lisarooms scam
- My3rentals scam
If you’re wondering if Craigslist rentals are legit – yes, they are! But, you need to be careful.
Below, you’ll learn how to spot a scammer on Craigslist.
1. They are showing you the home, but do they actually own it?
One of the many Craigslist rental scams I have been hearing about a lot lately is when a scammer seems legitimate and even shows you around the rental. You might believe they are the landlord since they somehow got into the rental, but that isn’t always the case.
Sometimes scammers will break into a back window or even steal the key from the actual landlord so they can show the rental to unsuspecting potential tenants. This can be a huge disaster, as many people will believe the scammer since they are pretending to be the landlord.
Another Craigslist scam I have heard about that is related to this is when a renter moves into a home, pays the deposit, rent, etc., only to find out weeks or months later that the actual owner is at their door. The owner might have been on a long vacation or they might have just let the home sit vacant while trying to sell it, and thieves noticed their absence only to take advantage of the situation. This can be bad as you will have to vacate immediately and you will be out of money, such as the refundable deposit you may have given to the scammer.
My rental search tip: Always make sure the person renting out the home is the owner or the property manager. There are many fake house ads on Craigslist. You can usually do a simple search on who owns the property by looking up city records. You also may be able to call the building’s manager (if there is one) and ask if the apartment is for rent and who is renting it.
2. A rental that seems too good to be true is often one of the many Craigslist rental scams.
This is how some rental scammers try to lure you in and an easy way to know how to spot a scammer on Craigslist. They will create a listing, make the rental sound amazing, offer it at a very low price, not require money upfront, and so on.
This is a clue that you might be the victim of a Craigslist scam. If the landlord makes it too easy for you to live in their rental, then you need to be very careful. Scammers are often hoping that someone will be caught up in a “great deal” and come running to them with cash.
My rental search tip: Always do your research before you give anyone money. You should check other listings in the area to see if the rental is comparable and you should also see if the place is actually for rent. In most cases, it is not.
Here’s one Craigslist scam email I received (I actually received this response for two different rentals I inquired about):
3. A scammer wants your information or money before you view the home.
If you are asked to fill out a rental application before you view a home, then you might be in the middle of one of the many Craigslist rental scams. The scammer is hoping that you will give them personal information, such as your bank account number, social security number, or something else. They will then disappear once they receive all of this information. This is a bad situation because you basically just gave your identity away.
Also, if you are asked to give money before you are allowed to view a home, then something is not right. This is most definitely a scam and you should avoid it. You should never have to pay loads of money in order to just view a home.
My rental search tip: You should always do your research, view the home, and more before you give out any extremely personal information. Occasionally, you may have to give your ID to the landlord, but other than that they should not need anything from you just to show you the rental house or apartment.
Here’s another Craigslist rental scam e-mail I received. This person sent me two e-mails so I just copied and pasted both e-mails into one so that you can easily read them both:
4. The landlord’s email has been compromised – Big Craigslist housing scams!
One scary Craigslist rental scam I recently heard about is when all of the information in a rental listing is correct. The home is actually for rent, the e-mail and phone number are real, and more.
However, when you e-mail the landlord you believe you are actually talking to them. It turns out that you are actually talking to someone who hacked into their e-mail. This can be a scary Craigslist scam as it can be hard to detect.
My rental search tip: Even though this Craigslist rental scam seems difficult, it can be easy to overcome. You should contact the landlord via the phone number that is listed on the real listing and talk to a real person. Then, you should verify everything that was discussed in the e-mails. Most of the time, landlords have no idea that their e-mail address was even hacked.
There are many different things to be aware of when looking for a rental online. Here are my general tips before falling for Craigslist housing scams or Craigslist apartment scams:
- Always make sure the person showing the home is the landlord or property manager.
- If a deal seems too good to be true, then it probably is.
- Be careful with your personal information, so that you are not the victim of identity theft.
- If anyone ever asks you to wire money, you should not. Most scammers will ask for money to be wired and this should be your first red flag that something is not right. Keep in mind that if you wire money, you CANNOT get it back. Too many people think you can get wired money back.
- Does the listing and/or e-mail communication with the “landlord” have many misspellings? Does the e-mail refer to you as Sir or Madam? Do they say they are out of the country and cannot show you the home until you pay? Do they claim to be a missionary or a reverend? If any of these are true, then this is usually the sign of a scammer.
- Always trust your gut instinct as there are always other places to rent in the world.
What Craigslist rental scams and Craigslist apartment scams have you seen or heard about? Have you ever been the victim of any type of scam?
P.S. There are over 200 comments below (you may have to click “« Older Comments” to see all of them), and many of you have been sharing your Craigslist rental scam stories and screenshots of exact emails. This is a great way to learn how to catch a rental scammer. Let’s continue to help one another out, thank you!
If you are new to Making Sense of Cents, I am all about finding ways to make and save more money. Here are some of my favorite sites and products that may help you out:
- Find ways to make extra money – Here are over 75 different ways to make extra money.
- Cut your TV bill. Cut your cable, satellite, etc. Even go as far to go without Netflix or Hulu as well. Buy a digital antenna (this is the one we have) and enjoy free TV for life.
- Start a blog. Blogging is how I make a living and just a few years ago I never thought it would be possible. I earn over $100,000 a month online through my blog and you can read more about this in my monthly online income reports. You can create your own blog here with my easy-to-use tutorial. You can start your blog for as low as $2.75 per month plus you get a free domain if you sign-up through my tutorial. Also, I have a free How To Start A Blog email course that I recommend signing up for.
- You should know your credit score – Check your credit score with Credit Sesame for free!
- Answer surveys. Survey companies I recommend include Swagbucks, Survey Junkie, American Consumer Opinion, Pinecone Research, Opinion Outpost, Prize Rebel, and Harris Poll Online. They’re free to join and free to use! You get paid to answer surveys and to test products. It’s best to sign up for as many as you can as that way you can receive the most surveys and make the most money.
- You can save money and get cash back at the grocery store. Read my review and learn how to here.
- Save money on food. I recently joined $5 Meal Plan in order to help me eat at home more and cut my food spending. It’s only $5 a month and you get meal plans sent straight to you along with the exact shopping list you need in order to create the meals. Each meal costs around $2 per person or less. This allows you to save time because you won’t have to meal plan anymore, and it will save you money as well!
- I highly recommend Credible for student loan refinancing. You can lower the interest rate on your student loans significantly by using Credible which may help you shave thousands off your student loan bill over time.
- Try InboxDollars. InboxDollars is an online rewards website I recommend. You can earn cash by taking surveys, playing games, shopping online, searching the web, redeeming grocery coupons, and more. Also, by signing up through my link, you will receive $5.00 for free just for signing up!
What Craigslist rental scams and Craigslist apartment scams have you seen or heard about? Have you wondered how Craigslist rental scams work? Have you ever been the victim of any type of scam?