Blog Home » Buying Real Estate » Craigslist: Still a Great Resource to Rent or Lease a House, but Beware of Scammers

Craigslist: Still a Great Resource to Rent or Lease a House, but Beware of Scammers


While an amazing resource for buying, selling, leasing and/or renting real estate, Craigslist does have its share of scammers looking to make a quick buck. In essence, these scammers bootleg legitimate advertisements for properties and drastically reduce the prices to entice the would-be buyer/renter. But, beware, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The scammer is hoping to get the deposit money wired to his/her account and then simply disappear.

Every day, my agents field multiple calls from renters who are confused because they have found two listings on a particular property at two different prices. Certainly, they are hoping the price is $700 and not $1195. Last week, one of my agents even got a call from her sign that this potential renter was to be meeting a “Vida,” a scammer, at the property. My agent quickly clarified the situation and, as expected, the real price, was out of range. This scenario and others out there greatly frustrates potential buyers/renters and the folks that use this great resource to advertise their properties.

Due to the concerns over the scams that are happening on Craigslist, the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM®) has compiled the following list of items to help buyers/renters deal with this issue.

You can sidestep would-be scammers by following these common-sense rules whenever using craigslist:

  • DEAL LOCALLY WITH FOLKS YOU CAN MEET IN PERSON – follow this one rule and avoid 99% of scam attempts.
  • NEVER WIRE FUNDS VIA WESTERN UNION, MONEYGRAM or any other wire service – anyone who asks you to do so is likely a scammer.
  • FAKE CASHIER CHECKS & MONEY ORDERS ARE COMMON, and BANKS WILL CASH THEM AND THEN HOLD YOU RESPONSIBLE when the fake is discovered weeks later.
  • CRAIGSLIST IS NOT INVOLVED IN ANY TRANSACTION, and does not handle payments, guarantee transactions, provide escrow services, or offer “buyer protection” or “seller certification”
  • NEVER GIVE OUT FINANCIAL INFORMATION (bank account number, social security number, eBay/PayPal info, etc.)
  • AVOID DEALS INVOLVING SHIPPING OR ESCROW SERVICES and know that ONLY A SCAMMER WILL “GUARANTEE” YOUR TRANSACTION.
  • DO NOT RENT HOUSING WITHOUT SEEING THE INTERIOR, OR PURCHASE EXPENSIVE ITEMS SIGHT-UNSEEN – in all likelihood that housing unit is not actually for rent and that cheap item does not exist.
  • DO NOT SUBMIT TO CREDIT CHECKS OR BACKGROUND CHECKS FOR A JOB OR FOR HOUSING UNTIL YOU HAVE MET THE INTERVIEWER OR LANDLORD/AGENT IN PERSON.
  • If you suspect that an item posted for sale on Craigslist may be part of a scam, please e-mail the details to abuse@craigslist.org. Be sure to include the URL (or 10-digit post ID number) in your message.
  • Please use the “spam” flag link in the top right corner of a spam posting.

To have the listings removed from Craigslist:

  • Pull up the listing on Craigslist and select the “Prohibited” tab to have Craigslist investigate it. One NARPM® member had their scam listing removed in about 48 hours. If there is more than one listing for the same property, you can select “spam/over post” and have the second listing with the same address removed also.
  • Go to the Craigslist home page and select the “avoid scams & fraud” tab on the left to report the scam listings to the FTC and IC3 (Internet Crime Complaint Center) or go to http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx.

Craigslist is still a wonderful resource for buying/selling and renting/leasing real estate. Just follow NARPM® helpful suggestions for the safest and smartest ways to browse the site. Most ads are legitimate and we wouldn’t want to let the few ruin it for the masses. Happy Hunting!

Leave a Reply