Questions for SR – Avoiding a Craigslist Scam

Craigslist. It’s becoming more popular all the time, especially for apartment hunters. Even I found my very first apartment out of college on the website. However, a website that is both so easily accessible and easy to post on also makes it dangerously vulnerable to scams. Here are a few tips to avoid these scams.

#1. Deal locally. Deal with people you can meet and conduct a transaction with in person. This is the best rule you can follow to avoid any sort of scam. Craigslist does not offer any sort of ‘buyer protection’ like Ebay or Paypal – once a transaction is completed there is no recourse for getting your money back if it doesn’t go well.

#2. Only accept checks in the exact amount. Many scammers will send you certified checks in an amount over what you’re asking, and then ask you to send any extra back. What they are counting on you is depositing a fake check that will eventually bounce, but by then they will already have the ‘extra’ money you sent back.

#3. Be wary of:

  • Anyone claiming that an outside company/their employer will be handling the renting or finances.
  • Out of country renters, or those using a mover or shipping company.
  • A renter who wants to pay you extra ‘for your trouble’, or who wants you to wire extra money back.
  • A check that is printed on standard paper, or that has an address not matching the address on the envelope.

The best course of action is to always make sure you can conduct a final transaction in person. Make sure you ask questions, especially if something seems off, too easy, or too good to be true.

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