Close to 200 consumers nationwide have filed complaints with BBB in the past year because they were scammed after responding to an ad on Craigslist. The most common scams involve renting a home or applying for a job. The following red flags may indicate you are dealing with someone using Craigslist to defraud people:
- The employer or landlord is from another country.
- The employer or landlord will not meet with you and will only communicate electronically.
- The employer or landlord overpays and asks you to wire the extra funds back to him/her.
Here are two of the more common scams to watch for on Craigslist:
Online Home Rental Scam:
After responding to an online classified for a rental property, the ‘landlord’ asks you to wire the deposit and first month’s rent in order to receive the keys to your rental home. If you ask to view the property in-person, the ‘landlord’ often claims to be out of the country and unable to show the house. Typically, scammers use pictures of homes taken from real estate websites in the fake postings.
Fake Job Posting Scam:
The goal of this type of scam is to steal money or personal information from job seekers. Scammers usually target those looking to work from home, looking for a second job and younger people looking for part-time employment. There are two common versions of the job scam:
- The scam artist claims that all paychecks and reimbursements must be made via direct deposit. Therefore, you must provide all of your personal information, including Social Security and bank routing numbers.
- The scammer sends you a check to cover job materials or expenses and directs you to deposit the money into your personal bank account. The scammer then instructs you to deposit a portion of the funds to cover your salary and send the remaining funds on to another designated account. The check is usually fake, but your bank may take some time to discover the fraud. Unfortunately, you are liable for the total amount of the original check and could be prosecuted for check fraud.
BBB offers these basic safety tips when using Craigslist:
- Try to deal with local buyers and sellers.
- Never wire money.
- Never give out your Social Security number, personal financial information or any other type of personally identifying information to people you don’t know.
- Be extra cautious of jobs that require any kind of up-front payment.
- Apartment or home rentals should be thoroughly checked out and inspected in person before putting down any money.