The internet is full of people trying to scam you out of money. This is probably because it’s so hard for the average consumer to figure out who took their money. Craigslist, the free online classifieds site, is no different. Recently, rental properties have been a target of scammers.
UNDERVALUED, UNSEEN PROPERTIES
The first question to ask yourself when looking at rental properties is, “Is this too good to be true?” Sometimes you may actually get lucky and find a real “steal”, but if you answer yes to that question, and the the property, or the supposed Anne Arundel County or Queen Anne's County property manager, refuses to show you the property or even give you the address of the property, then there is a high probability that someone is out to separate you from your money.
These scammers usually operate by finding a Anne Aurndel County or Queen Anne's County rental property that actually is for rent and then posing as the owner. They will then have some sort of excuse for not being able to show you the address. They will then probably ask you to wire money to them, and then give you the go-ahead. If there were rules for using the internet, the first one would probably be to not wire money to someone you don’t know.
Another way the scam might operate is by asking for information that might allow them to steal your identity and then use it for obtaining credit cards. This might come in the form of a credit check or asking for your social security number. This is something a lot of landlords and property management companies do, but you should make sure to meet with your Anne Arundel County or Queen Anne's County landlord in person before giving them this kind of information. If there’s anything that seems fishy about the deal, break it off.
Quite often, the way an ad is written will give away a scammer. This is not always the case and is more of a gut feeling, but this is certainly a clue. If the ad seems to be written using very formal language, too much capitalization, or maybe lots of misspellings, then the ad may very well have been created by a scammer. Remember, though, this is only a clue. Don’t write off an ad solely for this reason.
Email addresses can also be a clue. Craigslist is set up so that you can’t immediately see the poster’s email, but you should be able to see it once they reply to you. If their email is something like firstname.lastname@example.org, then it is quite likely that someone is trying to scam you. Scammers will use email addresses with randomly generated characters so that if they do happen to be caught, it will be harder to trace it back to them.
While some of the people on Craigslist might only be there to steal your money, don’t overreact by forgoing the site altogether. Just remember to use these tips and, most importantly, keep an eye on the deal. Most scammers can be outwitted just by using your brain.