7 Tips to Protect Yourself from a Craig’s List Housing Scam

At this stage, it seems everyone, even your grandparents, have heard of or used Craig’s List. Craig’s List is the international mecca of all things classified. Whether you’re looking for jobs, housing, goods, services, local activities, or dating, Craig’s List has it. Unfortunately, you can also find a fair amount of scams there too. The latest scam that has emerged features homes that are for rent or sale. If you’re looking for a place to rent or buy, be warned. Scammers are out there posing as homeowners and copying real listings to post on the classifieds site. They will ask for a deposit to be wired to them. When you arrive to move into your new place, the home is already lived in by the real owners and you’re out of a home and the deposit. 

1Below, Justin Lavelle of PeopleLooker provides a few smart tips to help protect you from a Craig’s List housing scam:

·         Beware of a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing. Scammers will often times deceive victims into thinking they’re good, honest people. They will tell you a believable story about being away on a mission trip or moving away to take care of an elderly parent. They will have you buying into the notion that they are pure good. You may think that you are wise enough and street smart, but buyer or renter beware.

·         Never Wire Funds. If someone asks you to wire money through Western Union or another wire transfer business, don’t do it! Craig’s List states, “Anyone who asks you to wire money is a scammer. If someone offers to send you a cashier’s check or money order, then have you wire money, they are always a scammer.” Also, never pay anyone you don’t meet in person.

·         View the Home In-Person. Do not rent a place without checking it out in person. Scammers refuse to meet face-to-face so they will not meet you to tour the house. So if they refuse to meet, this is a clear indication something fishy was going on.

·         Look for Red Flags. Most scammers will use a phone number that’s different than your local area. Also look out for poor grammar and spelling. This is often, though not always, evidence of a scammer. They will most likely give you a story about being out of the state or country, making it impossible to meet. These are all red flags.

·         Run a Background Check. Run a Craigslist background check or use an app like PeopleLooker to check the background on the person renting the house and on the house itself. You’re likely to find out that the owner/person doesn’t exist or that the home is already owned by someone else.

·         Never Share Personal Info. Do not reveal your financial information such as bank account, social security number, PayPal account, etc. with anyone. A true renter/seller will have you fill out proper paperwork that does not require this information upfront. 

·         If It Sounds too Good, It Probably is. Never trust a deal that sounds too good to be true. If someone claims a transaction is “guaranteed,” they’re likely a scammer.


Justin Lavelle is Communications Director at PeopleLooker.com (https://www.peoplelooker.com). PeopleLooker is the fast, affordable, and easy way to access public records and search for people. Find out ages, marital status, addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, criminal records, and more. PeopleLooker is a popular tool for online daters who use the app to check the background of potential dates.